There are 53 possible causes of anxiety

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What is Anxiety?

It’s normal to feel anxious once in a while. Certain events and experiences can cause anxiety. Very common is worry about the future—if you’ll get a promotion, if you’re raising your children correctly, if you’ll get the loan from the bank to start your own business. 

However, if those feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease happen on a seemingly regular basis, and they are brought on by daily stress, you may be part of the estimated 18 percent of the U.S. population with an anxiety disorder. 

While some people have the capability to calmly surf through life’s worst storms, others react to stress with episodes of anxiety. Anxiety can be hard to describe. It can feel like standing in the middle of a crumbling building with nothing but an umbrella to protect you. It can also feel like you’re holding onto a merry-go-round going 65 mph and you can’t do anything to slow it down.

Anxiety often manifests as an apprehension about daily life, including finances, job responsibilities, health of loved ones, and so on. Anxiety triggers can be as minor as being late for appointments, car repair responsibilities, or household chores. 

People with anxiety can also worry about their performance in work or school—this is a common symptom in children with anxiety.

The key to distinguishing anxious feelings from legitimate fear is that the frequency, duration, and intensity of the anxiety greatly outweigh the likelihood of the feared event.

The most common type of anxiety is generalized anxiety disorder. This involves frequent anxiety, worry, and apprehension about different activities, including the daily tasks already mentioned.

Other types of anxiety are related to specific stressors, and include: 

  • Panic disorder: this type of anxiety is characterized by panic attacks, or bouts of intense fear or terror that develop quickly and unexpectedly.
  • Social phobia: a fear of being embarrassed in public situations.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: this is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something specific (compulsions).
  • Separation anxiety disorder: fear of being away from home or loved ones.
  • Anorexia nervosa: the fear of gaining weight.
  • Somatization disorder: complaining of multiple physical problems when there is no evidence of physical illness.
  • Hypochondriasis: anxiety over having a serious illness.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder: anxiety following a traumatic event, such as death of a loved one, war, or being the victim of a crime.
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Possible Causes - Listed in order from the most common to the least.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, worry uncontrollably about common occurrences and situations. The condition may also be called chronic anxiety neurosis.GAD is different than normal feeling...

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable thoughts and fears (obsessions). These obsessions cause repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that a person uses in an effort t...

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Panic Disorder

Panic disorder occurs when you live in fear of having a panic attack. You are having a panic attack when you feel sudden, overwhelming terror that has no obvious cause. You may experience physical symptoms such as ...

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Acute Stress Disorder

In the weeks after a traumatic event, you may develop an anxiety disorder called acute stress disorder (ASD). ASD typically occurs within one month of a traumatic event. It lasts at least two days and up to one month...

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Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes people to avoid situations that might cause them to feel trapped, helpless, embarrassed, or scared. It

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. PTSD can cause disruptive symptoms of panic, increased arousal, and mental/emotional problems.

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A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia you will experience a deep sense of dread, and sometimes panic, upon encountering the source of your fear. The fear can be of a certain place...

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Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety is a normal part of childhood development. It occurs in babies between 8 and 12 months old. It usually disappears around age of 2. Some children have symptoms of separation anxiety during their grad...

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Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the central nervous system. Domestic and wild animals are able to transfer the virus to humans via saliva in bites or by scratches. Early symptoms include fever, muscle weakness...

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Hyperventilation happens when you suddenly start breathing very quickly. Exhaling more than you inhale causes low carbon dioxide levels, which leads to lightheadedness and tingling in the fingers.

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PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that affects a woman's emotions, physical health, and behavior during certain days of the month generally just before her menstrual period. PMS symptoms start five to 11 day...

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Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD) is the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal. It causes sudden and severe problems in your brain and nervous system. Approximately five percent of hospital patients being treated fo...

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Post Concussion Syndrome

Post-concussion syndrome, or post-concussive syndrome (PCS), refers to the lingering symptoms following a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).

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Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a loss of control of the bladder. In some cases, it may result in a total loss of the bladder's contents or it may just cause minor leakage. The condition may be temporary or chronic, dependin...

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Head Injury

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Injuries to your brain, skull, or scalp are all types of head injury. A head injury may be mild or severe depending on what caused it. Some injuries produce bleeding within your skull. Others cause damage on the outsid...

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The Catastrophy of Cardiac Tamponade

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Cardiac tamponade is a condition where the sac that encases your heart fills with fluid and then puts pressure on your heart. This undue pressure keeps the heart from filling with blood properly. When this happens, th...

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Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a chronic condition of the bladder that causes sudden urges to urinate. The urge comes from bladder muscle contraction. The urge can happen suddenly and at any time, regardless of the amoun...

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Pericarditis is the inflammation of the sac that surrounds your heart. The sac is a double-layered membrane called the pericardium. The pericardium protects your heart and helps it function properly.Pericarditis can b...

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A syndrome is a collection of symptoms that often occur together. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common syndrome that causes many individuals to seek medical help. This condition is separate from inflammatory bowe...

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Acute Pancreatitis

Chances are, you don't know a lot about your pancreas. But when the pancreas becomes inflamed, you're going to feel the pain. Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation in the pancreas, an organ found behind the stomach an...

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.