Causes of Anxiety: Does Anxiety Have Any Purpose?

The causes of anxiety attacks relate to the adaptive and protective functions of anxiety. Let's look at why people become anxious and what to do about it.

If, for a moment, we consider anxiety to be like fear (see this page more information on how fear and anxiety differ) anxiety is like an "alerting signal" for the body. "As an alerting signal, anxiety can be considered basically the same emotion as fear. Anxiety warns of an external or internal threat; it has lifesaving qualities." (Kaplan and Sadock, pg. 189).

Okay, so fear that warns of possible danger (like bodily harm, social consequences, punishment, or any other sort of threat) can be helpful because it keeps us from doing things that will have undesirable consequences or harm us in some way. That's a good thing. Without any fear, we may unknowingly act in ways that have undesirable consequences.

The need to avoid danger or embarrassment is a key cause of anxiety.

The physical symptoms of anxiety attacks, and even the symptoms of anxiety not escalated to a full-scale panic attack, are caused by the body's natural response to danger.

In other words, the way the body responds to danger is one of the causes of anxiety symptoms. The fight-or-flight response prepares the body for action so you can escape from a threat or fight it off. More information on the difference between stress, anxiety, and fear.

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Continue to ...

Page 1 - Overcoming Anxiety: 5 Quick Ways to Relieve Anxiety
Page 2 - Definition of Anxiety
Page 3 - Anxiety Symptoms
Page 4 - Anxiety Causes
Page 5 - Anxiety Treatment

If you think "positive thinking" can control my anxiety, you obviously just don't understand.

I'm sure my symptoms have a physical cause. How can THAT be caused by anxiety?!

More Questions About Anxiety on the Relaxation Advice Page

Relaxation Scripts for Anxiety Relief

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