Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia, with approximately 2 million people experiencing the condition.
You may not be able to prevent your anxiety from surfacing, but you can manage it. Recognising what triggers your anxiety can make a big difference to how it affects your life as you can learn to avoid and manage your triggers and symptoms effectively.
How to recognise triggers
It can be difficult to recognise triggers, especially if you haven’t regularly experienced anxiety or it occurs in various situations, making it harder to pinpoint the cause. Working with a professional to talk through how you were feeling and what you were doing in the lead up to your anxious feelings can help.
Studies have also found that engaging with online support groups can also be effective for recognising triggers and dealing with the symptoms of anxiety. You could also keep a diary where you can notice patterns, helping to identify triggers. It’s important to be honest about how you were feeling or what you were doing at the time. Anxiety can make this difficult as it can blur your thoughts and perceptions, but hindsight can help you to understand and interpret the situation clearer.
Common triggers of anxiety
Triggers will be different for everyone, but there are some common ones that affect many people. Anxiety is usually uncontrollable worries about potential outcomes to situations that have or haven’t yet happened. Uncertain financial circumstances creates this situation, making it a common trigger, from student loans to receiving an unexpected bill.
In fact, 10 million Australians are living with some financial worry and a further 2 million are living with severe financial stress. Managing your finances effectively can reduce the likelihood of it being a trigger. Physical illnesses often have unknown outcomes and other psychological illnesses and conditions can co-exist with anxiety, such as depression and stress, making them a prime example of a trigger.
There are also many social and environmental situations that can trigger anxiety, commonly public speaking, going to an event with lots of people you don’t know and conflict with others.
What do symptoms look like?
Up to 40% of Australians will experience a panic attack at some point in their lifetime, according to Beyond Blue, but anxiety can present itself in many different forms. There are a lot of symptoms that are less obvious and can make someone experiencing anxiety behave abnormally or out of character.
Due to feelings of uncertainty, an anxious person may feel the need to escape, so sitting near a door, looking for ways to leave or avoiding the situation altogether are common. This can make someone socially withdrawn, so if you notice that you or someone else has started to spend more time by themselves, it’s worth checking in on them.
Behaviour can also become compulsive, such as checking lights or the oven is turned off or having to do routines a certain way to avoid potential triggers, but it’s important to understand that this is caused by anxiety, not obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), although the two can overlap.
Anxiety is a common illness that millions of people are living with. Recognising triggers of anxiety in yourself can help you to take control and manage the condition better. You can also help to identify when a loved one is struggling so that you can help them, even if it’s just talking to them.
This article was kindly written and contributed by Cassie Steele.
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