14 Surprising Triggers of Anxiety and Panic Attacks You Should Avoid

Surprising Triggers of Anxiety and Panic Attacks.

surprising anxiety triggers

There are some surprising triggers of anxiety and panic attacks that everyone with anxiety ought to know.

Anxiety and panic attack disorders are among the most debilitating health conditions that can make daily life difficult.

As such it is good advice to know what your triggers of anxiety are. For many people, there are some common triggers, but some can be surprising.

But first, how do you know you are having an anxiety attack or even a panic attack?

Surprising triggers of anxiety you should know

Some common signs of anxiety include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Pounding heart
  • Chest tightness
  • Irritability
  • Excess worry and fear-unfounded
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach, even diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling shaky

But please note that these signs may also be associated with other health problems and should always be further addressed as some may indicate serious health concerns.

So, if you suffer from anxiety, you want to get to the cause. You likely would want to know what your triggers are so you can avoid them or learn how to manage the situations that cause your anxiety.

Here are some common anxiety triggers

Surprising Common Triggers of Anxiety


Surprising anxiety triggers medications

Some medications can cause anxiety. These medications include thyroid medications such as Levothyroxine.  This can be a side effect or an indication that the dose is more than you need.

Other medications include asthma medications and steroids. Steroids and asthma medications can make the heart beat faster and therefore mimic symptoms of anxiety.

Other medications that can trigger anxiety are over-the-counter decongestants, weight loss pills,  birth control pills also may trigger anxiety. Some weight-loss medications containing Ephedra( type of epinephrine were banned due to dangerous effects on the heart ).

Sometimes withdrawal from certain medications you may have stopped taking such as benzos can trigger anxiety. Always seek medical advice from your doctor or mental health practitioner before stopping taking any medication or if you are experiencing any symptoms.

Trigger of anxiety: Stress

Stress can be a major trigger of anxiety. Unfortunately, we live in a stressful world and things like work, family life, or even lack of good time management can cause stress.

Chronic stress then will not only trigger the anxiety but can keep one anxious chronically. Managing stress is therefore one of the most important things one should do to calm down anxiety. Having a plan, and routines such as a morning and nighttime routine will help reduce stress and anxiety.

When stressed, sometimes people try to cope by drinking alcohol or taking drugs, but unfortunately, these only increase stress and worsen anxiety.

Here are 21 simple things to do to reduce stress in your life. 


16 Bad Habits That Make Anxiety Worse

Social gatherings& and anxiety

If you have social anxiety, social gathering and events can easily be a trigger of anxiety and or panic attacks.

Sometimes one may be anxious if they have to participate in such ways as delivering a speech, or a presentation, and this can be such a hindrance to doing one’s job well or advancement.

Find ways of coping including talking with a therapist about handling social situations. Also preparing in advance and rehearsing what to do can help.   Educate yourself about anxiety, and about how to cope in various situations.

Related:13 Best Books for Coping with Anxiety


Caffeine- Major anxiety trigger 

tirggers of anxiety

A cup of coffee in the morning is great for many people.

But for some too much caffeine can trigger anxiety. Caffeine is in a lot of things, from coffee to energy drinks and tea and soda. So while you may need some coffee to get your day started, be careful not to go overboard if you have anxiety.

Caffeine is a brain stimulant and some people are much more sensitive to caffeine leading to feelings of restlessness, heart palpitations, and nervousness.



Medical conditions

Some medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety. The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped organ in the neck is a crucial organ that produces thyroid hormones responsible for many functions in the body.

But if the thyroid is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone, this can trigger anxiety.

The thyroid affects your heart rate and if too many thyroid hormones, the heart will beat faster or even too fast. So you can imagine feeling your heart pounding in the chest will make you feel anxious.

Other conditions that may trigger anxiety include diabetes and low blood sugar, and heart conditions. f your heart is not beating correctly, you may feel short of breath, and if your blood sugar is low, you feel, nervous and lightheaded both of which feel like an anxiety attack.

Apart from that, a fast heart can mean that the heart is not optimizing the delivery of vital nutrients to major organs like the brain. That will also increase or even likely trigger anxiety.

When your heart is pounding away it is a very uncomfortable feeling and you may find you are short of breath. Shortness of breath is a major symptom of anxiety, and if you were not anxious, that will trigger a panic attack.


Anxiety trigger: Financial issues 

Money issues can cause worry and excess fear and stress and these can lead to anxiety and panic attacks.  Anxiety can result from s sense of lack of control of a situation. It is essential to try to be a good money manager.

Find a financial advisor, and avoid overspending. If you have a problem with spending sprees, speak to a mental health professional. Draw up a budget and adhere to it.

Relationships and conflict

Anxiety trigger

Some relationships can be pretty up and down and these topsy turvy and turbulent relationships can keep one on edge. For a person prone to anxiety, worry and arguments can trigger and worsen anxiety. Sometimes, for some people dealing with conflict causes anxiety.

Every relationship has some conflict, but it is hard for some people to handle conflict especially if they never learned how from their upbringing.

Conflict is hard and a delicate balance between talking and resolving issues and out and out full-blown anger. So if the relationship is a chaotic one, it can trigger excess worry and stress. But it may not be but an anxious person may be insecure and worry all the time especially if they don’t know how to cope with conflict.

The wrong diet can trigger anxiety and panic attacks

Triggers of anxiety

Our diet affects our mental health and the wrong foods can trigger anxiety. Foods high in refined sugar and refined carbs give us a rush of sugar high only to lead to a crash soon after eating.

These highs and lows can trigger anxiety. Low blood sugar leaves one feeling anxious, nervous, and irritable and this can happen over and over in the course of the day when you indulge in sweets and refined bread cookies, and pasta.

To maintain a calm and healthy mind. it is important to eat a balanced diet with enough protein, complex carbs, and vitamins. This ensures appropriate glucose levels and meets your desired range for vitamins and minerals. All these play a part in a calm mind.

You see, as mentioned previously, low blood sugar can make you feel anxious. Eating complex carbs and vegetables provides you with vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, B vitamins all of which have been shown by research to be vital in maintaining a healthy mind.


 Anxiety trigger: Negative mindset

Surprising anxiety triggers mindset

A negative mindset contributes to negative self-talk. And constantly seeing the world as dark and unhappy and always expecting the worst can trigger anxiety. Having a dark view and negative thoughts makes one always on edge expecting something to go wrong.

That feeling of constant worry easily triggers anxiety. Changing your worldview or the way you relate to the world or the way you think is not something that you can change overnight.

But by being self-aware and using resources to educate yourself, you can change the way you talk to yourself, and the way you think. So try. Read books on mindset.

Do daily journaling to delve deeper into your feelings and your thinking. Reflect on why you feel the way you do. Challenge those thoughts and if you think they are not valid.

Rephrase the thought. You know our brains tend to believe the thoughts we dwell on. Have you seen someone who tells a lie till they believe it? It is sort of t the same. So challenge those negative thoughts.

You may want  to read:  How to Get Rid of Negativity and Find Joy

Drugs and alcohol

Triggers of anxiety

Drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, benzos, marijuana can cause anxiety and panic attacks. Alcohol can also trigger anxiety especially if one is having alcoholic withdrawal.

Withdrawal from any of these drugs can also lead to anxiety and panic attacks. In fact, DTs can help from withdrawal from these medications pr alcohol and that is a medical emergency.

Seek medical care immediately. If drugs and or alcohol are chronic problems, it is important to seek rehabilitation and medical as well as mental health help. These are not problems one can resolve alone.


Chaotic home environment

Surprising anxiety triggers clutter

A chaotic and cluttered environment can be an anxiety trigger. And really, decluttering does the brain some good.

If you have anxiety, a cluttered home is a big burden at the back of your mind and it can be overwhelming so that you feel you have this long to d list that feels unmanageable.

A cluttered environment robs your brain of rest and can keep you on edge and anxious and stressed. if the home is too messy, come up with a plan to do a little at a time.

Just take one small area at a time. Use a timer even if it is for 5 minutes to pick a few items up. This success will build upon itself and eventually you will have a clean house. Here is a great guide for decluttering when the mess is overwhelming. 

 Anxiety Trigger: Lack of self-care

Surprising anxiety triggers no self care

Self-care is really a broad term for so much that we should do for our total well-being. This includes everything from what we eat, and drink, our rest, our mindset,  exercise, seeing our doctors, mental health professionals, our relationships, and more. So neglecting any of these areas can easily trigger anxiety or make it worse.

When you don’t practice self-care, you may neglect yourself and not eat right or skip meals. You may not sleep enough. These elements of self-care, can lead to anxiety and even worsen anxiety.

If you are eating the wrong things, your body may lack vital nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin B 12, B 6, and folate-these affect your mental health, and so you can be more prone to an anxiety attack.

If you are not sleeping enough, you are likely to feel easily stressed. You lack the mental power to handle even the minimum of stressors and so you get anxious and may even have full-blown panic attacks.

So practice self-care. Prioritize good nutrition. Sleep enough. Drink plenty of water.  A well-nourished brain is calm and so is a well-rested brain. A lot of people go around their day dehydrated. Even slight dehydration has a huge effect on your mental health and functioning. You may not realize it, but if you have anxiety, being dehydrated will easily trigger anxiety for you.

Related: 31 -day self-care challenge for better mental health

Amazingly Simple Self Care Ideas for Moms to improve Mental Health


 Anxiety Trigger: Bad sleep hygiene

Everyone needs to sleep enough.  While some people may feel bad when they have not slept enough-maybe they are a bit irritable, a person with anxiety is easily triggered into anxiety and or panic attacks when they are tired due to lack of sleep.

Unfortunately, sleeping well with anxiety can be tricky due to nighttime anxiety which may keep one awake and on edge for hours. Worse still is waking up from sleep in a panic. These situations make it hard to sleep enough.


It is important that you have a nighttime routine to wind down your day. Be as intentional as possible.  Avoid coffee at least 8 hours before bed, and avoid alcohol especially at night.  Here is a simple calming nighttime routine that will help you have a relaxed calm night and improve your sleep.


Make sure that your sleep environment is calm, and put away that cellphone early enough. Avoid scrolling as you try to fall asleep. Try to read a good book instead-no horror books though. Read more on how to sleep better with anxiety on this post. How to Cope With sleep Anxiety Naturally: Practical Tips for Better Sleep When You Have Anxiety

Related: How to Sleep Better at Night Naturally

Simple Calming Nightly Routine for Anxiety

Traumatic experience

This here is no surprise as everyone knows about the effects of trauma is PTSD, a mental health illness that causes major stress and anxiety. PTSD is one of the most common triggers of anxiety.

Having a trauma experience is devastating and it causes one to live fearfully. One never feels they are safe and can be hypervigilant and easily triggered by not only flashbacks but anything that reminds them of the trauma.

It can take a long time to heal from this and sometimes one lives their whole life haunted and anxious from a past traumatic experience.

If you have experienced trauma please make sure you are seeing a mental health professional and take really good care of your mental health. Be self-aware. it is easy to seek drugs and alcohol trying to forget, but this will only make your mental health worse. Counselling, medications, and self-care are in many cases the best thing in this case.

Final words:

Anxiety sucks.  It is so very important to know what your triggers of anxiety are so you can try to find ways to overcome them.  Follow the tips given in this post and elsewhere. Adhere to your therapy and medications. And please please take care of yourself.

Sleep enough, eat well, drink plenty of water. Keep a journal and record events and your reactions. Assess those situations to see how you should have responded, and if you could have done anything differently, or why you felt that way. Challenge negative thoughts. Work on your self-esteem.

Say good things about yourself. Empower yourself.  Assess your relationships and leave those that are not healthy.  Surround yourself with loving people.

Be prepared mentally and physically if you have to go to a gathering.  You can do this. You can beat these anxiety triggers. At least if not all the time, I hope most of the time.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply