Anxiety causes can vary greatly. It is often a normal reaction to stressors such as financial problems or having a sick child. Anxiety causes can also be medical in nature, and some medical disorders that cause anxiety include hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, carcinoid syndrome and pheochromocytoma. Anxiety might be related to substance abuse or substance withdrawal, or it could be part of a psychiatric anxiety disorder.
Internationally, mental health practitioners use the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). The latest version of the ICD includes descriptions of more than 10 specific anxiety disorders. Some of the most well-known of these disorders are generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and agoraphobia.
In generalized anxiety disorder, there is not one specific stressor that causes anxiety. Individuals who have generalized anxiety disorder worry about a wide range of things; they often feel like everything causes anxiety. People who have social phobia, on the other hand, are scared specifically of social interactions. Some became anxious about any social interaction, and others fear specific anxiety causes, such as being in large groups or talking to people of the opposite sex.
Another common phobia is agoraphobia, which is the fear of leaving home. Many people with agoraphobia have especially strong anxiety when going into public places where crowds might be present. Some people who have agoraphobia can leave home with friends or family members but will be overwhelmed with anxiety if they try to leave home by themselves. Agoraphobia is often accompanied by panic attacks, in which individuals suffer physical symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and chest pain. These sufferers often have intense fear that they are going to die or lose control.
Experts have little idea why some individuals cope with life’s many anxiety causes in a healthy way and others develop anxiety disorders. Genetics do appear to play a role; some people seem to be biologically predisposed to have an anxiety disorder. Environment also has a part. Individuals who do not have healthy role models for coping with anxiety are more likely to develop anxiety disorders. Also, individuals who have a lot of minor stressors in their lives are more likely to develop anxiety disorders.
Multiple studies have shown that women tend to have higher anxiety levels than men. Experts attribute this to the fact that women are more likely to be caretakers. In many societies, most women work outside the home but still maintain most of the responsibility for upkeep of the household. Women also, because of their roles as caretakers, might be more likely to worry about their family members.