Discover What Really Causes Anxiety


Story at-a-glance

  • Anxiety disorders tend to arise when the neurotransmitters aren’t functioning properly, resulting in a breakdown of the brain’s internal communication network and brain reactions that may be inappropriate for some situations
  • Anxiety is actually just one of the many complications that could arise because of “over breathing” or hyperventilation

There are many factors that can cause anxiety disorders, ranging from personal experiences, medical conditions and even lifestyle choices. Patients who have anxiety disorders may find that these diseases arise because of a particular reason or two.

5 Reasons Why You May Be Affected With an Anxiety Disorder

So what are the potential causes of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, separation anxiety and other anxiety disorders? Medical News Today lists five common risk factors:1

1.Environmental and external factors — Certain events and environments may play a role in triggering anxiety disorders in people. These include:

Trauma from events such as abuse, victimization or death of a loved one

Stress from personal relationships, friendships, marriage and/or divorce

Stress from work or school

Stress about finances

Stress due to natural disasters

Lack of oxygen in high altitude areas

2.Medical factors — For some people, anxiety disorders may arise because of particular illnesses or conditions:

  • Anemia, asthma, infections and several heart conditions
  • Stress due to a serious medical condition
  • Side effect/s of a medication
  • Symptom/s of another illness
  • Lack of oxygen due to emphysema or a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)

3.Substance use or abuse — People who have a history of substance use or abuse tend to experience anxiety because of:

  • Alcohol or benzodiazepine dependence (this is said to be a major reason why around half of patients with GAD, panic disorder or social phobia contact mental health services)
  • Intoxication because of drugs like cocaine or amphetamine
  • Withdrawal from usage of an illicit drug like heroin, or prescription drugs such as Vicodin, benzodiazepines or barbiturates

4.Genetics — Researchers have suggested that people who have a family history of anxiety disorders increase their risk for these diseases. As psychologist Amy Przeworski, Ph.D. of the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, notes in Everyday Health:2

"Individuals inherit a predisposition to being an anxious person, [and] about 30 to 40 percent of the variability is related to genetic factors."

In fact, it's said that seven new genes may be connected to the onset of these disorders,3 although there still may be a long way to go since the research process is still at its earliest stages.4

5.Brain chemistry — Other studies have also indicated that patients with abnormal levels of particular neurotransmitters in the brain, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine.5 People who have these are more likely to be affected with GAD.

Anxiety disorders tend to arise when the neurotransmitters aren't functioning properly, resulting in a breakdown of the brain's internal communication network and brain reactions that may be inappropriate for some situations.

Other Lifestyle Factors That Could Lead to Anxiety Disorders

While there are times when it's obvious that you can attribute anxiety disorders to the five aforementioned factors, there are other components in your lifestyle or diet that can significantly increase your risk for these conditions, such as:

Exposure to cell phones, nonnative electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and radiofrequencies (RFs): A study by researchers from Kent State University in Ohio showed that frequent cell phone use was linked to reduced academic performance, anxiety and unhappiness in college students.6

Food additives, food dyes, GMOs and glyphosate: Artificial food additives and dyes can disrupt proper brain function and negatively affect your mood.

Meanwhile, GMOs and genetically engineered (GE) ingredients also cause major changes in the gut flora — these promote pathogens that eliminate good bacteria that's vital for both mental and physical health.

Gut dysfunction due to an imbalanced microflora: Proper brain function and a boosting of psychological well-being and mood control are benefits that you can attain when you nourish your gut flora.

A lot of people are unaware that your gut and your brain work together, and if one of these isn't working properly, it could cause negative effects on your body, mental health included.

Magnesium, vitamin D and/or animal-based omega-3 deficiencies: It was proven that if your body lacks any of these vital nutrients, this can result in significant alterations to your mood.

Anxiety is actually one of 22 medical areas that can be severely impacted by a magnesium deficiency.7

Meanwhile, low vitamin D levels can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression related to sunshine deficiency. It's a known fact that sunshine rays are the best source for vitamin D.

Lastly, omega-3 fats, particularly EPA and DHA, play vital roles in improving emotional health. A study proved that medical students who took omega-3s significantly lowered their anxiety by 20 percent.8

Excessive consumption of artificial sweeteners like sugar and junk food: Refined sugar and processed fructose, two types of artificial sweeteners that are common ingredients in junk food, feed pathogens in the gut and reduce the amount of beneficial bacteria living in it.

This leads to adverse consequences for both your gut and mental health. These sweeteners also suppress brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) activity in the brain and cause adverse chemical reactions that could trigger chronic inflammation and disturb normal brain function.

Exposure to toxic mold: Anxiety is just one of the harmful effects of toxic mold to your mental health.

Mycotoxin expert Dr. Harriet Amman notes that indoor molds can also lead to neurological effects like loss of coordination, headaches, depression and multiple sclerosis.9

Improper breathing: Anxiety is just one of the many complications that could arise because of "over breathing" or hyperventilation. This is defined as "breathing in excess of metabolic requirements of the body at that time."

According to Patrick McKeown, an expert on Buteyko Breathing, heavier breathing was more evident among people who were sick.

There are many reasons why people fall into the bad habit of breathing improperly in the first place, such as the belief that it's good to take big and deep breaths, genetic predisposition or familial habits, processed food and stress.


Anxiety: Introduction

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety vs Panic Attacks

Anxiety in Children

Anxiety During Pregnancy

Anxiety Duration

Anxiety Causes

Anxiety Types

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety Prevention

Anxiety Diet

Anxiety Support Groups

Anxiety FAQ


Anxiety Duration


Anxiety Types

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1 Crosta, “What Causes Anxiety?” Medical News Today, August 3, 2015
  • 2, 4 Vann and Jones, “Is Anxiety Hereditary?” Everyday Health, August 24, 2015
  • 3 McGregor, “Seven New Genes Linked to Anxiety Disorders,” The Conversation, June 15, 2015
  • 5 Simon, Zieve, A.D.A.M., “Anxiety Disorders,” University of Maryland Medical Center, March 11, 2013
  • 6 Paddock, “Cell Phone Use Linked to Lower College Grades, Anxiety,” Medical News Today, December 9, 2013
  • 7 Dean, “The Magnesium Miracle,” Dr. Carolyn Dean
  • 8 “Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Brain, Behavior and Immunity
  • 9 Ammann, “Is Indoor Mold Combination a Threat to Health?” Mold Survivor