Symptoms and causes of anxiety

Anxiety is more than a passing feeling of being worried or nervous when you have something important coming up like giving a speech. When your anxiety is long term and doesn’t go away after a stressful event, it can start to affect your day-to-day activities. Here we look at the causes of anxiety.


What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety can cause physical and emotional symptoms.

Anxiety varies from person to person, but here are some of the most common anxiety symptoms:

  • Feeling nervous or worried
  • Feeling panicked or a sense of dread
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Restlessness
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Unable to focus or think clearly.


What are the causes of anxiety?

There isn’t one answer for what can cause anxiety. If you are experiencing long-term anxiety, there are most likely a variety of factors that are contributing to the way you are feeling.

Events and situations: Stressful events in your life can cause anxiety:

  • Losing or looking for a job
  • Working long hours
  • Stressful situations at work
  • Relationship issues
  • Financial stress
  • Housing trouble
  • Loneliness
  • Grieving
  • Experiencing or witnessing trauma or abuse.


Personality types

Some research suggests that certain personalities may be more predisposed to develop anxiety. Examples are the perfectionist or the shy person.


Physical health

A chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease or asthma can contribute to anxiety.


Substance abuse

Alcohol and drug use can trigger anxiety.


Mental health condition

You may develop anxiety while having another mental illness. For example, people may have depression and anxiety.


Family background

If members of your family have been diagnosed with a mental health illness, it can increase your chances of developing anxiety. It is not clear whether this is genetic or a learned behaviour that we pick up from our parents. It’s important to note that your family history does not mean will develop anxiety.


You won’t always be able to determine the cause of your anxiety. Your first step should be to reach out to a health professional. Call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or speak to a psychologist or your GP.

If it is an emergency, dial 000.