February 12, 2019

Common causes of anxiety include financial hardship, public speaking, and stress at home, work, or school. Experiencing some anxiety every now and then is normal and happens to everyone. However, anxiety that lasts longer than 6 months can indicate the presence of one or more anxiety disorders, which can be caused by a range of factors outside of everyday stressors.

If you’ve been suffering from symptoms of anxiety for longer than 6 months, it’s possible there may be a more serious underlying problem contributing to your disorder. Here are 6 surprising causes of anxiety and anxiety disorders that may be driving your symptoms.

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases blood pressure and the body’s production of the fight-or-flight hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Even those who consume caffeine sporadically can experience these effects and suffer worsened anxiety and panic attacks. If you have anxiety and consume caffeine products such as coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, or caffeine pills, try cutting back on your intake to see if symptoms improve.

2. Weight Loss Supplements

Many ingredients in weight loss supplements have been found to contribute to anxiety. For instance, guarana and green tea extracts are common ingredients in weight loss supplements that contain high amounts of caffeine; while Saint John’s wort produces side effects including fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and anxiety. Before purchasing any weight loss supplement, read the ingredients label and do some research to determine whether any of the ingredients can trigger or worsen anxiety.

3. Prescription Medications

Certain medications interact with the body in ways that can trigger anxiety. For instance, ADHD medications that contain amphetamine work as stimulants to improve concentration and make you feel more alert, but can also cause side effects of restlessness and anxiety. Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones that cause imbalances in brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA that play a role in anxiety.

Decongestants, antibiotics, and NSAIDs are other commonly used medications that can cause anxiety. If you’re taking any medicines that list anxiety as a side effect, ask your doctor about options for other treatments.

4. Heart Problems

An estimated 30 percent of people who experience a major cardiac event suffer elevated levels of anxiety for up to one year following the event. Many studies reveal that anxiety is significantly linked to poor cardiac outcomes, including death and recurring cardiac events like a heart attack. At the same time, those who suffer anxiety are at increased risk for heart problems because anxiety can cause related symptoms of chest pain, rapid heart rate, and heart palpitations. If you suffer anxiety and/or heart problems, see a cardiologist immediately so you can improve and reduce your risk for one or both conditions.

5. Poor Nutrition

People who suffer mood disorders like depression and anxiety are shown to practice poor nutritional habits and eat diets high in fat and sugar. High-sugar diets can cause imbalances in a range of hormones including insulin, leptin, serotonin, and dopamine to trigger anxiety and anxiety disorders. Increase your intake of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and cut back on fried foods, desserts, and other foods high in fat and sugar.

6. Substance Abuse

People who suffer from substance abuse disorders are roughly twice as likely to also suffer from anxiety and anxiety disorders. Long-term use of drugs and alcohol can upset the brain’s production of neurotransmitters like GABA, dopamine, and serotonin — increasing the risk of anxiety. If you need help recovering from substance abuse, ask your doctor about treatment programs that can also treat your anxiety disorder.

Healthcare Associates of Texas offers a range of mental health services that can help you overcome anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorders. Request an appointment today or contact us at (972) 258-7499 to begin the treatment process.

 

References:
https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/04/19/study-caffeine-stress-and-brain-function/
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/ataglance.htm
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15236788
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5149447/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3762204/
https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrcomorbidity.pdf

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