Causes of Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety Attacks

The causes of anxiety attacks vary from person to person, but the results are the same: debilitating feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, even of panic and frustration, that can cripple one's emotional state. By recognizing what may trigger your anxiety attacks, however, you can be better prepared to avoid situations in which you may panic.

Public Speaking

Many anxiety attacks are triggered by irrational fears, and the fear of public speaking is one of the most common. Especially if you will be speaking in front of strangers or if the speech is significant - such as accepting an award or pitching a work project - you may feel panicked. Practice your speech beforehand, have notes ready to use, and find a focal point in the room to help you overcome your anxiety.


An unplanned pregnancy can create an anxiety attack for a woman or couple who is not prepared to be a parent. Taking proper precautions if you are sexually active can help minimize the risk of this type of panic, and even women who are pregnant but anxious about becoming a parent or scared of the pain of delivery can benefit from working with different relaxation and stress management techniques to control their anxiety.

Financial Stress

Overdue bills, a lost job, looming foreclosure, and other financial stress can lead to panic attacks, particularly for someone who knows they have major unavoidable expenses in their future. Instead of panicking, create a debt management plan, speak with a credit counselor, and take other steps to end your financial frustrations.

Health Anxiety

It is natural for someone facing a major medical procedure, dealing with a serious injury, or living with a serious illness to feel moments of panic. Speak with your doctor to understand what factors affect your health and what you can do to be healthier to lessen your anxiety. If you are anxious about a loved one's health, seek to get them the help they need and offer your assistance as much as possible so you know there is less to be anxious about.

Test Anxiety

Many students can experience full blown anxiety attacks when confronted with a difficult test, particularly if that test will determine a passing or failing grade, college admittance, or other significant academic progress. Set up a study program several days before the test, get a good night's sleep the night before, and take your time when answering questions to help remove that anxiety.

Wedding Stress

Planning a wedding can be incredibly stressful and it isn't unusual for brides to have a mental meltdown before, or even on, the big day. If you find yourself too anxious to walk down the aisle, take a few moments for yourself and rest, take deep breaths, and focus on the reason why the day is happening: the person you love.

Animal Anxiety

For someone afraid of animals, even seeing one nearby may trigger an anxiety attack. If possible, avoid walking near where animals are tied or penned, but if you must, then always check to see that they are secure and cannot harm you. Knowing you are safe will help lower your anxiety level.

Traffic Jams

A traffic jam can cause an anxiety attack for an impatient driver or anyone in a hurry. Taking public transportation, choosing a different route to avoid the worst congestion, or carpooling so you do not have to be the driver can all be effective ways to avoid this type of anxiety.


An approaching deadline for a project, assignment, or major decision can be a source of major anxiety. Taking projects and assignments in small increments or making pro and con lists for a decision can help you manage your anxiety as the deadline gets nearer.

Fear of Flying

Fear of flying another common phobia, and many people panic when they are faced with flights, particularly on crowded airplanes. To manage your stress in this situation, choose a window or aisle seat and try to schedule your flight during an off peak period when the plane may not be so crowded. Take along a book, music, or puzzles to help keep you distracted as well, or plan to sleep during the flight if possible.


Someone who is afraid of heights can easily have an anxiety attack whenever they're required to go into a skyscraper, fly, or otherwise visit a great height. To make it less stressful, avoid windows and other views that may cause vertigo, wear sturdy shoes that can help you feel connected to the ground, and practice deep breathing and other relaxation techniques.


If you cannot swim, the fear of drowning can be overwhelming. To enjoy the water without panicking, stay in shallow areas without currents and have proper safety equipment such as life vests available. If you enjoy swimming but panic if water gets in your nose and restricts your breathing, wear a nose plug or snorkel to help.


If you cannot discover what the causes of anxiety attacks may be for you, it is possible that you are experiencing a chemical reaction rather than a psychological or emotional one. If you are on medication, consult your doctor to talk about your symptoms and look for possible side effects, and if you are not on medication, ask about vitamin deficiencies or hormonal imbalances that may create similar symptoms.

Learn to Relax

Once you know what causes your anxiety attacks, you can begin learning proper relaxation techniques to help control them. For ideas, check out these natural stress relief methods and stress relief exercises to begin to overcome your anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety Attacks