Unexplained Anxiety: Why Do I Feel Anxiety For No Reason?

Key Takeaways:

  • Unexplained anxiety can have various underlying causes, such as family history, medications, previous trauma, and environmental/lifestyle factors, even if the triggers are not immediately apparent.
  • Identifying anxiety triggers through symptom tracking, journaling, self-reflection, and professional help is crucial for managing unexplained anxiety effectively.
  • Strategies for dealing with anxiety include medications, mindfulness and relaxation techniques, lifestyle changes, and seeking professional help from mental health practitioners to address the root causes and change thought patterns.

Learn why anxiety occurs, what might be causing your symptoms and how you can overcome anxiety. 

A fluttering feeling in your stomach, heart palpitations, disturbing thoughts and constant worrying about everything—anxiety is a sensation most people are familiar with.

In most cases, the anxiety links to a specific trigger, such as a job interview, hot date or speaking in public – but what happens when it occurs for no reason? Unexplained anxiety can have a devastating impact on a person’s life, impacting their ability to work and enjoy socializing.

According to the Canadian Government, 11.6% of adults over 18 have mood or anxiety disorders and Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnoses in people over 15 experiencing anxiety doubled between 2012 and 2022 (Statistics Canada).

If you’re dealing with unexplained anxiety, you’re not alone. Most importantly, there are a range of treatment options available to combat your symptoms and leave anxious feelings behind.

In this guide, we'll cover:

  • What anxiety is and why it occurs.
  • The causes and triggers associated with anxiety disorders.
  • The best coping strategies for anxiety and how to implement them.
  • How to get help for your anxiety and live your best life.

What is unexplained anxiety?

Most people experience feelings of anxiety when exposed to certain threats or triggers. It’s a natural response initiated by the brain to ensure a physical reaction to threats.

Once the brain releases cortisol and adrenaline, the body produces physical symptoms, including heart palpitations, sweating, achy muscles, difficulty falling asleep, and a fight-or-flight response. While most people understand what’s causing their reactions, others might experience sudden episodes of panic.

For example, someone with a phobia could get panic attacks when exposed to the greatest fears, and past trauma can also result in anxious behaviours. Even if you don’t notice any immediate triggers, there are usually underlying factors that result in a response.

Potential causes of unexplained anxiety

Unexplained anxiety can occur at any time, and understanding the underlying cause is vital in identifying triggers. Most triggers are the result of a root cause, with the most common contributors to anxiety being:
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Family history of anxiety 

As with many mental health conditions, anxiety disorders can run in families. Research published by King’s College London highlights that the link could be due to hereditary or environmental factors. If anxiety disorders exist within a parent, the child could adopt the same negative thinking patterns.

Over time, this can result in ongoing anxiety symptoms and cause GAD or panic disorder.

Medications and physical health

Dealing with a physical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, and illnesses that cause chronic pain can take its toll on anyone. Aside from the stresses of dealing with the illness, certain medications can contribute to anxiety disorders.

Hormonal contraceptives, blood pressure medications and steroids can worsen anxiety by causing more physical symptoms. While many medicines are vital for your overall health, research shows that blood pressure medications are significant depression and anxiety triggers (PubMed).

Previous trauma 

Traumatic events come in all forms, from childhood abuse to moving towns and a relationship breakdown. Most people recognize extreme traumatic events, but stressful life events such as work stress or financial problems can also trigger anxiety.

You seem anxious for no reason, but stress gradually accumulates, resulting in a fight or flight response.

Environmental and lifestyle factors

Your surrounding environment can contribute to anxiety and other mental health disorders. For example, if you’re sensitive to noise and live in a noisy city, constant triggers can leave you in a state of anxiety. Feeling unsupported by your family or local community can also result in significant stress.

Using stimulants regularly and drinking a lot of alcohol might result in you feeling anxious frequently, as the brain reacts to coming down from these stimulants (Henry Ford Health).

How to identify anxiety triggers

Occasional anxiety is normal, but if your nervous system is constantly in overdrive, identifying external and internal triggers will help you isolate the root cause of your symptoms. There are many ways to do this, with the most popular being:

  • Symptom Tracking: When do you feel anxious? Are there specific times when the physical sensations occur? Tracking your symptoms pinpoints where you’re more vulnerable.
  • Journaling: Keeping a journal of your day-to-day life can help you track when you’re most anxious. Write down the date, time and situation you’re in.
  • Self-Reflection: Explore the thought processes that happen when you experience anxiety and keep a record of them.
  • Lifestyle Assessment: Getting tired easily, difficulty concentrating, and chronic stress are signs that your lifestyle might be triggering anxiety. Look at your drinking habits and diet to see whether there’s a link.
  • Professional Help: Seeking support from a doctor or mental health professional can explain why your symptoms occur. For example, your doctor can check for a physical health problem, while a mental health professional will explore anxiety triggers.

Strategies for dealing with anxiety 

Anxiety disorders can have a long-term impact on your life – but they’re not untreatable. From medications to therapy and implementing coping strategies, you can navigate anxious symptoms and not let them hold you back.

Anti-anxiety medications

Anti-anxiety medications can be beneficial for managing the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety, but they’re not a fix-all solution. Depending on the type of anxiety disorder you have and how it impacts your life, the specialist might prescribe antidepressants or benzodiazepines.

All medicines have potential side effects, and some might not suit people with other medical conditions.

Mindfulness and relaxation

Mindfulness practice is proven to be effective in treating anxiety disorders (APA). Switching your brain off and focusing on the present moment makes it easier to identify why you’re worrying excessively and understand how your brain works.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises can help when exposed to perceived threats.

Lifestyle changes

A healthy diet and plenty of exercise can work wonders for your mental health. Studies show that high-intensity aerobics is more effective than low-intensity exercise for reducing anxiety, and the social elements of joining a class can also boost your mood.

People who are dealing with substance abuse issues or mood disorders often find joining a support group gives them a network of support and practical strategies to overcome their anxious episodes.

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Seek professional help for anxiety disorders

While medication has its benefits, seeking treatment from a mental health professional is the best way to understand the root cause of your anxiety and change your thinking patterns.

There are different anxiety therapies available, with each offering distinct benefits. CBT is an excellent solution for individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), while psychodynamic therapy or EMDR can help you move on from previous traumas.

Would you like to wave goodbye to anxiety?

Anxiety impacts people from all walks of life, and it’s never a sign of weakness. Understanding what might be causing your symptoms can help you take steps to combat anxious episodes by seeking appropriate treatments.

Whether it’s talk therapy, practicing mindfulness or getting medical support for physical health issues, you can move through anxiety and return to daily life. If you’d like support with your symptoms, Well Beings Counselling offers a range of talk therapy services in Canada.

Our fully qualified therapists can accommodate in-person, online and phone therapy. Look at our support for anxiety disorders, and feel free to start your healing journey today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Anxiety disorders are complex because they occur due to signals from the brain and reactions from the sympathetic nervous system. While you might experience anxiety for no apparent reason, there's usually an underlying trigger that results in the condition.

Mindfulness and breathing techniques can help you stay calm and remain in the moment. The 333 Rule is particularly helpful. When the symptoms begin, you name three things that you see and three things you hear, and you move three body parts, which helps you focus and stay grounded.

Understanding which situations might trigger feelings of anxiety and identifying the root cause can help you deal with the symptoms. If you experienced a traumatic event or have a family history of anxiety, it's best to seek treatment to manage anxiety levels and identify multiple triggers.

A persistent feeling of being on edge and dealing with the physical symptoms of anxiety can take its toll on your body and mind. Some people might have difficulty sleeping and develop depression and suicidal thoughts, which can result in long-term distress.

Seeing a specialist can help you access appropriate treatments, such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and anti-anxiety medicines. If you have suicidal ideations, please use the Government of Canada's resources to find the appropriate National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Counselling Services in BC and ON

Our clinic offers specialized counselling services if you’re in British Columbia or Ontario and are looking for longer-term support. Our counsellors and psychotherapists are trained to help you navigate all issues. We provide a safe, confidential space where you can begin your healing journey.

Picture of Pareen Sehat MC, RCC

Pareen Sehat MC, RCC

Pareen’s career began in Behaviour Therapy, this is where she developed a passion for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches. Following a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology she pursued a Master of Counselling. Pareen is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. She specializes in CBT and Lifespan Integrations approaches to anxiety and trauma. She has been published on major online publications such as - Yahoo, MSN, AskMen, PsychCentral, Best Life Online, and more.

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