Anxiety is a very common feeling, with anxiety in its simplest form a normal human action. But for some people, anxiety can become overwhelming – leading them to be diagnosed with an anxiety-based condition.

There are a range of anxiety conditions. It isn’t entirely known what causes anxiety problems – and why some people develop anxiety problems and others don’t.

However, some factors do appear to be involved with anxiety conditions developing. Often, a range of factors contribute to the onset of an anxiety condition.

There are many questions about the causes behind Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety: Anxiety in its simplest form is a feeling of being worried, afraid, or generally tense – usually in anticipation of an imminent event, or a predicted event. Anxiety is a perfectly natural emotion, with the vast majority of people going through periods of anxiety in their life. However, for some people anxiety is a constant problem which can be hugely detrimental to their quality of life. Anxiety can easily impact someone’s ability to live their life as they would hope to. Worrying can sometimes get out of control, making it near-impossible to live life in a healthy way. This typically leads to impairment in several different areas of life. The term ‘Anxiety’ can be applied to a host of mental health conditions, with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder just two of many conditions.

What are some potential causes of Anxiety?

As mentioned earlier, there are many potential causes. Possible causes, and risk factors include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Chemical Imbalance: A chemical imbalance is mooted as a possible cause for a range of mental health conditions – anxiety may be no different. Chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and noradrenaline – which are involved in the regulation of mood, may be imbalanced. This can cause mood to change frequently, and deviate from the ‘normal’ feelings.
  • Genetics: Anxiety disorders often run in families. For instance, cases of Generalised Anxiety Disorder are six times more common in the children of someone with the condition, with similar rates throughout the other anxiety-based disorders [1].
  • Traumatic Experience: Any sort of traumatic experience can lead to the onset of anxiety. This is especially prevalent if the experience isn’t dealt with.
  • Abuse: Having been the victim of physical or emotional abuse can also lead to anxiety being triggered.
  • Childhood Experiences: As childhood experiences tend to shape our personality, any sort of difficult experience in childhood can act as a trigger.
  • Substance Abuse: An individual with a history of substance abuse has been proven to be more susceptible to developing mental health conditions – anxiety is no different.
  • Medication: Any medication can provide unpredictable side effects. Anxiety can be one such side effect – especially with some recreational drugs.
  • Life Event: Any life issue can lead to anxiety being triggered. Unemployment, acute stress, homelessness, loneliness or being bullied are all common triggers. In this case, anxiety can be short-lasting, or long-term.
  • Personality Traits:  Certain personality traits appear to be present in several cases of anxiety. Low self-esteem, low self-confidence and self-loathing can make it more likely for anxiety to appear.
  • Other Mental Health Condition: Anxiety often co-exists with other mental health conditions, such as Depression or a Personality Disorder.


Sometimes there simply isn’t a cause of anxiety conditions, the illness may just appear by itself.

While each individual case of anxiety will be different, many will be caused by similar events. Regardless of the cause, seeking treatment if needed is important.

See Also


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[1] Patel, G., & Fancher, T. L. (2013). Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Annals of Internal Medicine. 159 (11). DOI: