7 Common Anxiety Triggers

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


Many people struggling with anxiety feel alone, lost, and overwhelmed. These feelings are common, and in the United States alone, anxiety affects 40 million  adults a year. Experiences vary from person to person, so some continue to function normally while others are unable to continue to live their day-to-day lives effectively. Along with different experiences, anxiety can be “triggered” (or caused) by a variety of different situations and stimulus- namely, stressors. While some triggers are highly personal and specific, there are many common triggers that cause or increase anxiety. A few of these triggers and ways to decrease their effects are listed below.

1. Health issues

An upsetting or difficult health diagnosis, such as chronic illness, blood sugar condition, or unexpected allergy can be a trigger for anxiety. While often lifestyle changes to maintain good physical health are beneficial long-term for mental health as well, short-term these changes can feel intensely overwhelming, causing feelings of anxiety.

If you receive a mental health diagnosis you feel might negatively affect your mental health, discuss an action plan with your doctor, a loved one, or mental health provider to help you cope with any additional stress. Breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and communication a re all highly effective strategies that may help.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine is common in sodas, energy drinks, coffee and tea, but for individuals prone to anxiety, consuming additional stimulants can increase anxiety levels . If you are struggling with anxiety, it may be beneficial to reduce and/or eliminate caffeine from your diet. However, as with any substance, gradual elimination is advised to reduce side effects.

3. Negative thinking

For individuals with mental illnesses such as anxiety, major depression, PTSD and even OCD it can be difficult at times to find positive things to focus on. However, studies show that positive thinking and gratitude can improve both mental and physical health while negative thinking can increase health issues , both mental and physical.

Learning to recognize negative thought patterns and feelings can help maintain a more positive outlook, and talking to a therapist, journaling, or even picking a favorite part of the day can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and other mental illnesses.

 4. Personal Conflicts

Conflicts in romantic relationships, friendships, and even family can be major stressors. Negative tendencies to blame, overthink or worry can go into overdrive when there is tension between you and those you care about. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent conflict altogether, but learning to work through things together can help.

An important step in the process of reducing interpersonal conflict is recognizing the reasons behind your thoughts and feelings as an individual. For many, internal reflection can be difficult without help. Journaling  and talking with a mental health professional can be indispensable tools in these cases.

5. Workplace Stress

Even if you have the best job in the world, some days are more stressful than others. Maybe you come in only to find that the schedule you had planned for the day has been tossed out the window due to an urgent matter, maybe you have back-to-back meetings, or maybe your coworker is unusually passive aggressive and you’re unsure why. No matter the cause, work takes up a large portion of the day and when there is stress, it can affect your whole life and aggravate feelings of inferiority and anxiety.

While workplace stress can’t be avoided, there are a few things you can do to help negate the affects of stress at work.

  • Take breaks- make sure to take time to eat your granola bar or get some steps in
  • Listen to music– listening to  a song that you love can brighten your day and lighten your load
  • Find a breathing exercise you like- breathing exercises such as square breathing, alternate nostril breathing and pursed lip breathing can help calm your heart rate and reduce cortisol  and adrenaline production.

6. Parties or social events

A common symptom of anxiety is overthinking what others might think of you. For example, many individuals struggling with anxiety avoid going out with friends because they worry their friends won’t like them anymore, or stop going to concerts because other attendees might think their dance moves look dumb. This type of anxiety is called social anxiety .

Social anxiety can seriously hinder one’s enjoyment of life and relationships with others. For some, talking to a loved one may help. For others, seeking the help of a mental health professional and potential treatment may be needed.

7. Financial concerns

In today’s world, it’s difficult to do anything without money. Shelter, food, water, heat, and most modern conveniences all cost money. For individuals who are struggling to find a job or don’t have steady income, financial demands can be incredibly stressful.

Fortunately, there is help. There are many types of financial assistance  available across the United States and most doctors offer payment plans. If you are struggling with your mental health and need help, Serenity offers flexible payment plans as well.

Whether you are struggling with anxiety caused by one of the triggers above or caused by something else entirely, there is help for you. Learn more about how Serenity can help at https://serenitymentalhealthcenters.com/testimonials/ .

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*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.