anxiety attack causes

The Most Common Causes of Anxiety

Written by: Melissa Hart

Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)
Social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, is characterized by intense feelings of self-consciousness in social situations. Although people with social phobia usually realize their fears are irrational, they are unable to overcome the anxiousness and fear that ensues when forced into a social gathering.

Blushing, sweating, nausea, trembling or shaking, and difficulty speaking may be some of the physical symptoms that arise from this type of phobia. This particular cause of anxiety affects over 15 million Americans, and some people may be genetically predisposed to developing social phobia, which usually begins during childhood or early adolescence.

Panic Disorder
Panic disorder causes severe attacks of panic or anxiety, coupled with intense feelings of fear and terror, as well as physical symptoms including sweating, heart palpitations, and fainting or dizziness. Some people may experience chest pains, or a smothering or choking sensation, as well as numbness or tingling in the extremities. This cause of anxiety may occur at any time, without warning, and usually is at its peak within 10 to 15 minutes.

Approximately six million adults in the United States are affected by panic disorder, and treatment is available in the form of various medications and different types of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder is a common cause of anxiety that is marked by excessive amounts of worrying about a variety of potential situations. People with GAD are unable to relax, have difficulty focusing or concentrating, and may also experience a host of physical symptoms such as muscle aches and pains, fatigue, headaches, and insomnia.

GAD affects twice as many women as men and usually surfaces between childhood and middle age, and is most often treated with CBT and or medication.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder causes high amounts of anxiety due to persistent thoughts or obsessions, and the rituals or compulsions used to control that anxiety. In most cases, the compulsions begin to take over and the person doesn't even realize their behavior is having a negative impact on every aspect of their life.

This cause of anxiety affects over two million Americans and may also be accompanied by other disorders such as depression. OCD may run in some families and affects both men and women equally.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder is another common cause of anxiety and develops after a person experiences some type of terrifying or otherwise traumatic incident. Instances of PTSD entered the spotlight in relationship to war veterans, although we now know that this disorder can happen as the result of many types of events from rape, to being mugged, to living through a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake.

Other Phobias
Some type of phobia, an irrational fear of something that in all actuality poses very little, if any, danger, affects nearly 20 million American adults and nearly twice as many women as men. The list of some of the more common phobias include a fear of heights or flying, enclosed spaces, water, dogs, bugs, snakes, tunnels, and escalators.

The majority of people with some type of phobia knows that the actual cause of anxiety is unfounded, but they are still unable to control their negative reactions. In many cases, merely thinking about their phobia is enough to bring on a panic or anxiety attack. Therapy is usually the first course of treatment for a specific phobia if it has begun to affect a person's normal activities of daily life.


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