According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are most common among Americans with mental illness. Anxiety affects just over 18% of the population – 40 million adults. Anxiety takes a number of forms, including social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder, and various phobias.

The causes of anxiety are numerous. Crowds, public speaking, financial worries, job stress, family problems, and emotional trauma can all invoke anxiety symptoms. However, anxiety can also be triggered from a number of other surprising sources. Let’s take a look at some of these unexpected triggers and find out how you can cope with them.

Your Medication

Taking certain drugs (or stopping them) can induce anxiety, causing feelings of edginess, restlessness, and even paranoia. Drugs and alcohol may cause these feelings, but even some over-the-counter decongestants and prescription medications can trigger anxiety as well. With substance-induced anxiety, you might be fearful, have trouble concentrating, or suffer from insomnia. Physical symptoms may include trouble breathing, racing pulse, shaking, and sweating. Your doctor may prescribe alternative medications to eliminate the symptoms.

The 24-Hour News Cycle

Having access to news 24 hours a day can be convenient, but it may also trigger anxiety. Hearing about all the ills and tragedies of the world constantly can prompt feelings of despair, hopelessness, worry, and anxiousness. Instead of checking the news throughout the day or having news alerts on your phone, check the news just once in the morning and go about your day, or make it a point to focus on “feel good” news. This should help relieve some of the anxiety caused by the all-day focus on violence and tragedy.

Dehydration

Have you been drinking enough water? When the body’s cells get dehydrated, they communicate this to your brain. Anxiety can be triggered because dehydration is a threat to survival. According to University Health News, severe dehydration can cause emotional disturbances, memory issues, and irritability, and also mimic the physical symptoms of anxiety, including heart palpitations, dizziness, headache, nausea, and muscle fatigue. The recommended daily fluid intake for women with chronic dehydration is around 91 ounces, while men should aim for around 125 ounces. You can count non-water beverages like juices as part of your daily intake, as well as fluids from food.

Unhealthy Gut

What you eat (or don’t eat) can also trigger anxiety. An unhealthy gut without the right balance of bacteria can affect your mood and mental health, as well as cause a host of physical health problems. Having an unhealthy gut also can impact your serotonin production. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain linked to happiness and well-being. To have a healthy gut, eat foods that contain live cultures (such as yogurt and kefir), limit your use of antibiotics when possible, and take a probiotic every day.

Social Media

Yes, your social media accounts can lead to more anxiety. In fact, there is something referred to as social media anxiety disorder. People affected may constantly feel the need to check their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. However, they also have feelings of low self-esteem, inferiority, anxiety, and body dissatisfaction, and worthlessness due to the “perfection” displayed on others’ social media pages. If your anxiety is triggered or you are otherwise negatively affected by social media, you should reduce your time on the sites and try to socialize more at in-person events and activities.

If you are suffering from anxiety, you are not alone. Try to avoid some of the common and unusual triggers of anxiety when possible. Reach out to a mental health professional to learn more about coping strategies and treatment options to help you combat your anxiety disorder.

– Jennifer Scott