Anxiety Triggers and How to Identify Them

Anxiety Triggers and How to Identify Them 1

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Anxiety is a serious mental health condition that can affect your physical health like, feelings of tension, fear, panic attacks, chest pain, and worry. Anxiety is the feeling of fear, worry, unease, or even impending doom which can be triggered by a major event or something as small as the dishes not being done. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that more than 40 million people are affected by anxiety disorders in the United States every year. A combination of environmental factors and genetics can cause anxiety, however, there are some symptoms of anxiety that can cause it to develop or worsen and negatively affect your mental health. These are what are known as triggers.

Anxiety triggers are experienced uniquely for each individual and understanding these can help identify specific types of anxiety disorders, whether caused by a generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder, and help lead to a diagnosis, but there are some common triggers that many people report in some form. The majority of people diagnosed with anxiety disorders commonly report experiencing multiple triggers or find all of the factors we list below trigger anxiety. In some cases, there are those that suffer from anxiety attacks without any triggers or warning at all. The only way you can manage an anxiety trigger is by identifying it.

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Below we identify some common anxiety triggers, coping strategies, and how to manage them.

Medical Conditions

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness or cancer can be a trigger for anyone’s anxiety. This is a very powerful trigger for anxiety because of the immediate feelings it causes. Reducing the amount of anxiety you experience when it comes to your medical issues can be done by speaking with a doctor and even seeking therapy.

Heavy Use of Caffeine

Millions of people drink at least one cup of coffee in the morning in order to wake themselves up before heading out to work or school. However, drinking coffee can trigger anxiety symptoms. People who suffer from different types of anxiety disorders or panic disorders are very sensitive to the impacts caffeine has on the body, according to a study from PubMed.


Medications prescribed by your doctor can also be another common anxiety trigger. Symptoms of anxiety can easily be triggered by over-the-counter and prescription medication used to manage different health issues. Some active ingredients in these medications can make users feel uneasy or unwell. Anxiety can be triggered by the following medications:

  • Weight loss pills
  • Congestion and cough medicine
  • Birth control pills

Improper Nutrition

Failing to eat proper meals can result in your blood sugar dropping. Your hands could begin shaking and your stomach might rumble. Skipping meals can also lead to your anxiety kicking into high gear. When you eat proper meals, your body gains the nutrients it needs and you receive the energy needed to get through the day. If eating three meals per day is unattainable, be sure to eat healthy snacks.

Financial Worries

Constantly being worried about paying the bills, paying student loans, or having too much debt can trigger your anxiety. Receiving an unexpected bill or expense due to a car repair or visit to the vet can also create anxiety. Being able to handle financial worries can be done with the help of a financial advisor, a professional who can manage your money so you can focus on other areas of your life.

Negative Thoughts

The mind controls the body. The same goes for anxiety. Your feelings and anxiety can worsen based on the words you say to yourself when upset. Refocus your energy and thoughts into positivity if you often say negative words about yourself. If you have been doing this for most of your life, it will likely take working with a therapist to change your outlook.

Social Events

Walking into a room full of unfamiliar people can trigger anyone’s anxiety. However, it can be overwhelmingly debilitating for many. If you are unable to make small talk or simply interact with others in social situations or professional settings, you might suffer from a social anxiety disorder. Going to social events with a friend or family member can make these situations easier, although working with a therapist might make it easier for you to deal with these feelings.


Stress is a major trigger of anxiety. Sitting in traffic, missing the train, or rushing to get to the airport is stressful. Stress that is present in your life for years on end is known as chronic stress. When left unchecked, chronic stress can cause you to skip meals, drink heavily, use drugs, and fail to get enough sleep. You should visit a therapist to learn how to cope with stress and its triggers.


No one ever said that relationships are easy. Your closest relationships often cause the most conflict in your life. If you find yourself arguing with your parents, spouse, or children regularly, it’s time to learn conflict resolution strategies from a therapist.

Personal Triggers

There are things in life that can trigger anxiety and they are known as personal triggers. These can include a song, a place, a smell, or anything else you experience in life. A personal trigger reminds you unconsciously or consciously of a bad event in your life, such as the death of a child, a spouse, or a close friend. People who experience personal triggers the most include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These personal triggers can be identified with the help of a therapist.

Public Speaking or Public Events

If you have to present a project in front of your class, make a presentation to your boss, or even just attend other types of public events where you are in a crowd, those situations may trigger a lot of anxiety. This may also point to social anxiety and can lead to panic attacks. You can improve your confidence and become more comfortable by seeking support from friends and family prior to or during these events. Being able to make eye contact with a trusted friend can sometimes help you block out the other people causing feelings of anxiety. Practicing a presentation until you know it by heart may also help you to feel more self-assured when in front of a crowd. When you attend regular therapy sessions your therapist will help you learn to prepare for these sometimes unavoidable situations and find beneficial treatments for managing your anxiety disorder and how to avoid future panic attacks.

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Tips for Identifying Anxiety Triggers

It is important that you identify anxiety triggers in your life in an effort to manage them. You can learn to recognize and identify anxiety triggers by doing the following:

Talk to a professional

It can be challenging to identify some triggers of anxiety, which is why you should regularly meet with a therapist. Multiple types of therapy can help you start managing these triggers including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or medication therapy. It is also important to schedule an exam with your general practitioner or another trusted doctor to rule out physical ailments, medical conditions, or side effects from medications causing you to be anxious.

Keep a journal or diary

Tracking and noting the times when your anxiety is the worst, what you were doing, and what you think might have triggered your reaction, can help you find relief more quickly when seeking help. Modern technology allows us to do this without keeping track of a notebook or having to dedicate too much time to the practice. Many people find it simple to create a habit of making a quick digital note on their phone or even a voice recording that they can access and reference later. There are also apps that have been created to make keeping a journal even easier. Going back and accessing what you have recorded will allow you to start to see patterns in outside influences, stressful times of day, people you are interacting with, and other possible contributing factors. Having a record of this information instead of trying to relay certain things you may experience from memory can be monumentally beneficial when seeking professional help to manage your panic disorder or anxiety disorder.

Are you Experiencing Symptoms of Anxiety?

The most common symptoms people experience because of anxiety include the following:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tension
  • Uncontrollable worry
  • Tingling feeling
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Discomfort
  • Problems with concentrating
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Fear
  • Feeling on edge
  • Shortness of breath

Should you experience any of these symptoms for more than six months, you might be suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Some of these symptoms are common with physical medical conditions so it is important that you identify other possible underlying physical health conditions that are not attributed to anxiety.

Some of these symptoms of anxiety can also help identify an underlying panic disorder. If you suffer from panic disorders, you may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Shaking
  • Trembling
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feel like your throat is closing
  • Sweating

Therapy for Anxiety Can Improve Your Daily Life

Are you suffering from any of the anxiety symptoms mentioned earlier? Do you struggle with any of the triggers mentioned in this post? If so, you should seek therapy from a licensed and trusted therapist as soon as possible to improve your condition. Treatment is just a phone call away. Schedule an appointment at BasePoint Psychiatry & Wellness today.

It is common to experience situational anxiety at different times in your life. However, if you often feel anxious, have ongoing feelings of worry, fear, or dread, or suffer panic attack symptoms, it can signal chronic anxiety, an anxiety disorder, or a panic disorder. It is important to know that anxiety can be treated if you seek care from a medical professional or therapist. You should seek treatment before anxiety can take a toll on your everyday life. At Basepoint Psychiatry & Wellness, there are various treatment methods and plans that can be put in place to help alleviate your anxiety symptoms and help you improve your mental and physical health, and return to a life you can love.

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