Why Anxiety Happens

I thought it might be helpful to run a series of blogs which focus on the questions I often get asked about anxiety and panic attacks. I thought I’d start with one I get asked in many different forms – why anxiety happens?

My disclaimer in all of this is that I am not a scientist. What I do have is a lifetime of personal anxiety and worrying. Plus ten years of professional experience as a hypnotherapist and anxiety expert. So here is what I believe about why anxiety happens.

In built survival

I don’t think that anyone is born anxious. But I do believe that we are born with an inbuilt survival mechanism. You may have heard of ‘fight or flight’. This is the unconscious instinct that we all have to spot danger very quickly and to respond to it by running away or fighting.

This response triggers physical changes in the body to make this running or fighting possible. It affects our heart rate, our breathing, our blood pressure; it shuts down our digestive system etc. The feelings that these physical changes cause will be very familiar to you if you suffer with anxiety and / or panic attacks.

In the modern world the unconscious mind tends to confuse really dangerous things (like tigers and lions) with nasty comments on social media, angry bosses etc. So if we are prone to anxiety then we are triggering the fight or flight response many times a day.  Usually in response to non-life threatening situations.

We all have this in built survival mechanism but some of us are more sensitive to triggering it in inappropriate situations than others.

Inherited or Upbringing

The second factor which I believe has a bearing on why anxiety happens is our upbringing. If we are brought up with at least one parent or caregiver who is a worrier or anxious, then we are more likely to develop that trait ourselves.

I really do know this from personal experience. My dad was a big worrier and I know that he taught me how to replicate this both through conscious learning and also from observing his behaviours and reactions.

I would watch him getting very anxious before leaving to go to work every morning. He also got very anxious about social situations.

In addition I can remember his ‘conscious’ teachings. One in particular sticks. He would always tell me ‘If you don’t have something to worry about, find something – there is always something to worry about’.
Because of this handing down of learned behaviour and family teachings, there may be an aspect of ‘being born anxious’. It has been passed down our family tree.

You can probably look back at your own life and spot family members who were anxious or over-thinkers. You can also probably recognise the physical symptoms of fight or flight in your body when you are reacting to particular situations.

If you are ready to break free from this old cycle then I can help you. We always start with a free initial conversation and you can book this by following this link to my booking page.

You can also connect with me on Facebook.


Hypnotherapy and Coaching Online and at The Tree Room in Colchester, Essex

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