Could This Be Causing Your Anxiety?

Everyone gets anxious, restless, and frazzled, but if you’re constantly experiencing anxiety and don't really know why, you could have an anxiety disorder.  When anxiety is severe, disrupts your day-to-day life, causes panic attacks or doesn't get better over time, you may have a disorder that needs to be diagnosed and treated.  Researchers don't completely understand all the causes, but they do know that anxiety is linked to a number of surprising triggers:

1.       Heart Problems: If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you’re familiar with the way your hands get clammy, you can’t catch your breath and your heart feels like it’s going to pound right out of your chest.  Problems with your heart can also be the cause of anxiety.  In fact, after a heart attack or heart surgery, about one-third of people experience anxiety symptoms such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath.  These symptoms often last up to 1 year or more, and they’re more common in women 

2.       Alcohol and Drugs: Research shows that people with anxiety disorders, particularly social anxiety disorder, are up to 3 times more likely to also have problems with drugs and alcohol.  Abuse of alcohol or drugs can also lead to an anxiety disorder or an anxiety attack.  People with social anxiety who abuse alcohol have been shown to be more likely to have severe symptoms of anxiety, as well as other emotional problems and health conditions. 

3.       Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant and that can be bad news for someone with anxiety.  In fact, caffeine’s jittery effects on your body are similar to those of a frightening event.  Because caffeine stimulates your "fight or flight" response, and studies show that this can make anxiety worse and can even trigger an anxiety attack. 

4.       Medications: Certain medications have some ugly side effects: they can cause anxiety symptoms or even trigger an anxiety attack.  Prescription medications to watch out for include thyroid drugs and asthma drugs, while over-the counter decongestants and combination cold remedies could put you at risk 

5.       Weight Loss Supplements: Many over-the-counter weight loss supplements come with anxiety-producing side effects.  Guarana is an ingredient in some over the counter diet products that contains twice as much caffeine as regular coffee. 

6.       Your Thyroid Gland: Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck that produces thyroid hormones.  These hormones are important for regulating your metabolism and energy levels.  But if your thyroid produces too much, it can cause anxiety symptoms, such as nervousness, irritability, heart palpitations, and sleeplessness. 

7.       Stress: Stress and anxiety often go hand in hand.  Stress can lead to anxiety symptoms, and anxiety can make stress worse.