8 (Unexpected) Anxiety Triggers You Should Know About

Updated 12/15/17
causes of anxiety
@talisa_sutton

Anyone who's experienced anxiety knows what a terrible, debilitating feeling it is. Oftentimes, you may wonder why it's happening to you or if there's anything you can do to prevent it or, once it arrives, stop it in its tracks. "There are a lot of reasons people struggle with anxiety and panic attacks," says functional medicine practitioner William Cole, DC, in a recent article for MindBodyGreen.

The factors involved in anxiety can be unique for each person, and most of the time, multiple factors are to blame for this common issue. While some are controllable and others not, understanding what might be the cause of anxiety is a helpful step in managing the issue. From food to hormonal imbalances, here are some of the most common anxiety triggers, according to Cole.

1. Caffeine: Everyone has a caffeine gene that determines how the body will be affected by this stimulant. If your body slowly metabolizes caffeine, it may contribute to feelings of anxiety, says Cole.

2. Sugar: Studies show that sugar increases anxiety and that the more of it you eat, the more likely you are to have anxiety.

3. Menstrual Cycle Imbalances: Hormonal imbalances are common in Cole's anxiety patients and can happen at any point during your cycle. However, before menstruation seems to be the most common time for hormones to get out of whack.

4. Thyroid Problems: Thyroid receptor sites are located in every cell in your body, Cole explains. So thyroid issues could be a factor in anxiety, as your thyroid controls much of what goes on in your body.

5. Alcohol: Studies have found that drinking alcohol can make the brain more susceptible to anxiety and can worsen existing anxiety disorders over time.

6. Nutrient Deficiencies: Vitamins and minerals like lithium, vitamin D, and magnesium are all associated with anxiety, according to Cole. If you're deficient in any of these, it could be a trigger for your anxiety.

7. Inflammation: Your gut is "inextricably linked" to your brain, says Cole. This means if the bacteria in your gut are out of balance, causing inflammation, it can contribute to anxiety.

8. 5HT2A Receptor Activation: The brain contains 5HT2A (similar to serotonin) receptor sites. When they are activated by things like stress, they also contribute to anxiety, Cole explains.

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