Explains anxiety and panic attacks, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
No one knows exactly what causes anxiety problems, but there probably lots of factors involved. This page covers some things which make anxiety problems more likely to happen:
Difficult experiences in childhood, adolescence or adulthood are a common trigger for anxiety problems. Going through stress and trauma is likely to have a particularly big impact if it happens when you're very young. Experiences which can trigger anxiety problems include things like:
Having parents who don't treat you warmly, are overprotective or are emotionally inconsistent can also be a factor.
"I was sent to boarding school and suffered acute separation anxiety, being away from home, and my brother nearly died when I was 12. My mum had an acute breakdown for a period of about a year and had to be home-nursed."
Current issues or problems in your life can also trigger anxiety. For example:
"I have recently realised that I spend money when anxious, which in turn makes me feel anxious about how much I’m spending."
Other health problems can sometimes cause anxiety, or might make it worse. For example:
Anxiety can sometimes be a side effect of taking:
"I have… cut out alcohol. Many think [drinking alcohol] helps with anxiety, but it actually makes it worse in the long run."
This information was published in September 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
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