Anxiety is a common emotion to feel, particularly before an exam or making a presentation in publc. In its purest state, it is akin to excessive worrying, thoughts racing through the head, and feeling super stressed! If you constantly feel this way however, you could have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are considered forms of mental health illnesses and can range from anxiety attacks, panic attacks, fears, phobias and social anxiety. Common causes of anxiety include caffeine, drugs and alcohol, however, what I hope to expose today, are those unusual items that you might not think about, yet are still known to cause low-levels of anxiety and stress in the body and can contribute to anxiety disorders.
1. An Irregular Thyroid
The butterfly shaped gland that sits at the front of your neck has been known to cause anxiety, if it’s not functioning at its prime. Thyroid hormones are important for regulating your metabolism and energy levels, however, too much thyroid equals anxiousness and nervousness (with heart palpitations and irritability thrown in). If you have anxiety symptoms, along with swelling in your neck, weight loss, a constant feeling of tiredness and fatigue, then it is worth consulting with your doctor.
2. Weight Loss Supplements
Many over-the-counter weight loss supplements contain ingredients that can increase levels of anxiety. Both green tea and guarana contain caffeine and St. John’s wort has been known to cause insomnia and sleeplessness. Being women, we are much more likely to take weight loss supplements at some point in our life, so if you do decide to use these capsules, avoid the variety that contains ephedra; which is known to cause anxiety and increase your heart rate!
3. Brain Chemistry
Some people inherit a genetic predisposition as well as have abnormal levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, attributing to increased chances of suffering from anxiety and general anxiety disorders. When neurotransmitters aren’t functioning properly, the brain can react in such a way that it triggers anxiety and anxiety attacks.
Some medications have side effects that cause increased levels of anxiety and create anxiety attacks. Common medications ironically include those that treat thyroid conditions (see point number one of this article) and drugs that treat asthma. Over the counter medications such as nasal decongestants and cold/flu remedies can also put you at risk.
Always being available and simply knowing that your parents, employers, and practically anyone in your contact list can get a hold of you at any moment is known to contribute to low level feelings of anxiety. Eons ago, we didn’t have the ability to text or e-mail; instead we had to wait for letters and packages to arrive. Now, with Smartphones and tablets at our fingertips, we are a phone call or a text message away from our contacts, creating feelings of dread and panic in some people - ultimately creating more feelings of anxiety.
6. Environment and External Factors
Not only can technology contribute to low level feelings of anxiety, but think about what surrounds you and your environment (both at home and work). Maybe you are not in the healthiest environment at work, perhaps you come home every night to screaming children, and piles of laundry to do; all of these things can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. You could be working through a divorce, facing a medical issue, going through changes in your living arrangements, or experiencing financial worries – they all contribute to feelings of anxiety.
I previously wrote about how genetics and family history can play a role in anxiety, well some people are more at risk due to their personality traits. If you are someone that typically worries, has perfectionist tendencies, low self-esteem, or you are sensitive to personal criticism, you are more likely to suffer from anxiety and be at risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Factors such as genetic vulnerability, severe life stressors, the substances you take (medications, alcohol, coffee) and technology, can all create more anxiety in the brain. If you have anxious feelings that don’t subside over a period of more than six months, or you are someone that suffers from anxiety attacks (on whatever scale), make sure you seek professional guidance and medical attention, for anxiety is a condition that can be treated. For more information and guidance on this important topic, check out the following websites: