The Importance of Diving Deep
Here are two common questions: What causes anxiety? why am I like this?
These may be questions you ask yourself when your situation takes a turn for the worse. While there are common causes for anxiety, it is important for you recognize the sources of YOUR anxiety. While thinking about anxiety may give some anxiety, it is still more important to understand the root causes of your feelings. Understanding where they come from, what triggers them, and when they can start can help us understand ourselves better and to help us combat anxious thoughts more effectively. Although it may seem scary to dive deep into our minds, in the end, it can be helpful for gaining clarity on where our thoughts stem from in the first place, and how we can deal with them directly.
It is important to acknowledge, validate, and accept our experiences. We can’t change the past, so dwelling on it takes away from the now. Because we can’t change the past, it may seem logical to worry about the future, but it's wrong to do that because doing so takes away from the now!
The causes of anxiety aren’t fully understood by psychologists, but they agree that life experiences play a huge role in developing the disorder. Anxiety can also be linked to underlying health issues, or side-effects to certain medication.
If you have a blood relative with anxiety, there is a chance that this disorder runs in your family. Trauma or abuse can also be a cause for anxiety disorder. Children who endure trauma or witness traumatic things are at higher risk of developing anxiety when they become adults. People with other mental health disorders such as depression are also more prone to developing anxiety, as well as those who misuse or withdraw from abusing drugs and alcohol. Having a serious health condition or illness can also cause anxiety, as well as an experiencing an increase in the stress from work, school, or life events.
Of course, everyone's anxiety will stem from different places. Mentioned above are just the more common causes of anxiety. It’s also important to note that one may have the condition without experiencing these factors, or experience these factors and not have the condition.
Here are some prompts to help you get started, as you dive deep. It's encouraged that you write out your answers, or talk through them with a therapist.
-When do I feel the most anxious? Where am I? What time of day is it?
Ex. I feel most anxious when I’m at school. Usually in the morning, when I arrive.
-What triggers my anxiety? Is there a specific thing I worry about, which might be the cause of my anxiety?
If there is more than one thing, list them. If they aren’t coming to mind, try to jot them down next time you feel anxious.
Ex: I’m stressed and worried about all the work I have to do today. I don’t think I can get it done. All the people in this class are much smarter than me, I’ll never be as good as them.
-Are there specific people who make me anxious? (See our article on Social Anxiety.)
Ex. I get anxious when I see the guidance counselor because he always asks me about the volunteering forms that I haven’t filled out yet.
After acknowledging where our thoughts are come from, it’s important for us to plan how we will be dealing with them. But that’s a topic for another blog post.