As discussed in the previous blog post, anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can put a serious dent in your ability to lead an everyday existence.
Debilitating fear, relentless worrying, feelings of overwhelm and loss of control, panic attacks, exhaustion – these are all obstacles that folks who suffer anxiety disorders have to overcome.
Identifying the reason behind the presentation of anxiety symptoms can be the key to successful treatment.
A wide variety of factors can contribute to anxiety disorders, and can result from a combination of one or more of the below causes:
Stress to the individual that results from unhealthy personal relationships, their work or school environment, financial predicaments – all of these things can contribute greatly to anxiety disorders. I had a hyper-energetic and mischievous puppy and I believe that constant, low level worry about what this dog was up to whilst I was at work was one of a number of factors that contributed to my breakdown!
People who have family members with an anxiety disorder are more likely to have one themselves. My mother suffered from depression in adulthood; my uncle is also a sufferer – incidence in your family definitely pre-disposes you to a mental illness.
Other medical conditions can lead to an anxiety disorder, such as the side effects of medication, symptoms of a disease, or stress from a serious underlying medical condition that may not directly trigger but might be causing significant lifestyle adjustments, pain, or restricted movement.
A couple years after my initial crash, I’d come off medication but contracted dengue fever whilst on holiday in the tropics – a trigger separate from the illness lead to a swift mental decline from what was an already sick, vulnerable state. You need to be ever vigilant!
Brain structure and function can react strongly to stressful or traumatic experiences, and when combined with genetic factors these can create triggers that would not previously have caused anxiety.
During the initial breakdown I for one had tried literally everything to pull myself out of the funk, and it was only last resort to medication that provided the relief and peace I needed to create space for me to be able to address the contributing factors and triggers. The conclusion is that the SSRI medication righted an imbalance in my brain and blood chemistry which was contributing to my condition.
Assuming a habit and consequent physical reliance and tolerance of an illicit substance, the withdrawal of such can well contribute as a factor to the presentation of anxiety disorder – contributing in in similar fashion to changes in brain chemistry.
As happened with me, a stressful event (the breakup of an intense relationship) triggered my downfall, but these can be caused by a multitude of scenarios: being made redundant, a death in the family, even local or national news disasters can contribute.
And sometimes, an anxiety disorder can develop without any external stimuli whatsoever.
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