by Julia Scalise, DN, PhD
Anxiety is complex...
Many believe it is a result of a psychological trigger, while others think it is more physiological. Regardless of the cause, anxiety has many debilitating effects.
While either can be the initial cause, both usually contribute to ongoing anxiety symptoms and complaints.
Causes of Anxiety
From a psychological aspect, our feelings and thoughts will stimulate physiological activity. In her book, Why You Feel the Way You Feel - Molecules of Emotion, Dr. Candace Pert explains the biochemical flush of neurotransmitter and hormone production based on our feelings and thoughts.
Also, physical triggers - disease, injury or toxin - can impact our mood, thoughts, feelings, and ability to cope. All can cause anxiety to manifest.
If either or both physical/non-physical stimuli can be the cause of anxiety, investigation of both is the best defense against anxiety. This approach helps us reach the highest level of well-being.
Our physical bodies have feedback loops for function, and so are there feedback loops between our psyche and body. I do not believe that anxiety is a one sided or unilateral issue of only mind or body or spirit for everyone. One person’s initial cause of anxiety may be physical, another person may have had a psychological cause, and yet another person may have had a combination.
Even Positive Events Can Be a Cause
Anxiety by definition is a feeling of worry, uneasiness, or fear about a circumstance or event and dreading a potential outcome or experience. Yet one can feel the symptoms of anxiety about a positive circumstance or event such as the anticipation of one’s upcoming wedding or giving a professional presentation that might be the highlight of one’s career.
While anxiety can stem from a positive or negative excitatory cause, based on one’s perception and feelings about the impending circumstance or event and its outcome, the physiological sensations and manifestations may be the same.
Very few people seem to complain about episodes of anxiety related to a positive circumstance. But those that have ongoing anxiety due to negative causes are growing in numbers daily.
- rapid heart rate
- rapid breathing
- tight sensations in chest or stomach
- rise in blood pressure
- muscle tenseness
- difficulty breathing
- cold extremities
- tingling and numbness
- dry mouth
- feeling like you may pass out or actual fainting
Emotional Anxiety Triggers
- Loss (death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job/finances, losing one’s health, losing one’s status)
- Trauma (accident, physical or non-physical abuse)
- Thoughts (cognitive stress)
- Relationship discord (romantic partner, family members, friends, professional)
- Overwhelmed (an overscheduled “to do” list)
- Personality Type (perfectionist, people pleaser)
Physical Anxiety Triggers
- Pain (acute or chronic)
- Metabolic (blood sugar fluctuations)
- Toxins (pathogens, heavy metals, environmental, chemical, electromagnetic frequencies)
- Allergies/Sensitivities (i.e. food, pollen, fragrances, pet dander, etc.)
- Infections (bacterial, viral, fungal - whether acute or chronic)
- Endocrine (hormones & neurotransmitters - dysfunctions and imbalances)
- Drugs (legal and illegal)
- Nutritional supplements (may be inappropriate or not in proper format)
What Happens When Triggers Kick In?
Both physical and non-physical causes can fire up the sympathetic nervous system (accelerator). The parasympathetic nervous system (brakes) can usually calm us down when triggers are brief.
However, prolonged duration or exposure to any trigger can damage this balancing physiological mechanism. You will be in a more constant state of overdrive and/or have more frequent and severe episodes of anxiety attacks.
Of course, there are other triggers. With so many potential triggers, consideration of all potential factors is crucial. Every individual is unique.
When triggers cause the sympathetic nervous system to go in overdrive, “fight or flight” mode is in full swing. This is an inherent, necessary survival mechanism for humans to either “fight or run from the beast chasing us.”
But when this mode remains ongoing for too long without a break, or is constantly being stimulated, excitatory hormones and neurotransmitters remain elevated. Symptoms of anxiety begin and can then become chronic, severe, and debilitating. This causes our physical and emotional health to become compromised and deteriorate.
Steps to Reduce Anxiety
- If anxiety is severe and impacting your quality of life, seek the expert advice of professionals. When a psychological cause is primary, work with trained and qualified practitioners, therapists and counselors. If a physical cause is primary, work with knowledgeable and trained practitioners to find and treat all physical triggers. When both physical and psychological issues are causing anxiety, establish a multi-disciplinary healthcare team.
- Be compliant and willing to take part in your therapeutic path for improvement and healing. Make the commitment and stick with it.
- Engage in physical activity that lifts your mood, calms your spirit, and relaxes your nervous system.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes adequate water, nutrition (for you), fresh air, and sleep.
- Use nutritional supplements with supervision, and/or medication(s) as necessary
- Use programs that encourage positive thoughts and mental relaxation such as those offered here by BrainSpeak.
- Find and remain consistent with stress management techniques that WORK FOR YOU !
There can be a singular or multifaceted cause of anxiety for people. There is no one answer, solution or therapy that works for everyone.
I've had episodes of anxiety at points in my life caused by different factors. Sometimes it was emotional, sometimes physical, and sometimes a combination. In my practice, I find the same to be true with my clients.
After proper investigation followed by appropriate actions, anxiety is either improved or eliminated. If interested, I offer a stress assessment analysis. You may contact me through my website and state your interest in this service on the contact form.
The most important thing you can do to address anxiety is first to acknowledge you have this issue. Work with practitioners to identify YOUR cause(s) and find the appropriate therapy for YOUR unique situation. Commit to participating and doing the work needed. It may not be easy, it may be challenging, but YOU ARE WORTH YOUR EFFORT.
Wishing you health, peace in body, mind and spirit, and living your best life.
Anxiety can be caused by emotional or physical events, or a combination of both. Regardless of cause, there are several things you can do to feel better:
- Seek expert advice of professionals
- Take an active part in your improvement plan
- Get regular physical activity
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including water, fresh air, sleep, and personalized nutrition
- Supervised supplements and/or medication as needed
- Encourage positive thoughts and relaxation - this can include programs from BrainSpeakStore.com
- Find Stress Management Techniques that work for you