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  • Writer's pictureK.C. Dreisbach, LMFT

When Anxiety Becomes a Problem

Why Anxiety Happens

Unfortunately, it's not super clear why anxiety happens. The truth is, it happens for a lot of different reasons, and every reason is different for each person.

Sometimes, anxiety begins because you experienced a major life event. Think of trauma or some type of life crisis. This could be a car accident, sudden death of a loved one, or a major, global event. The COVID-19 pandemic is a really great example of this.

Shortly after the shut-down happened in March of 2020, reports of anxiety skyrocketed. Why? Because people were scared. They didn't know what was going to happen, and this produced that pesky emotion we call "anxiety."

Sometimes, however, anxiety isn't triggered by a big life event. Sometimes, anxiety happens because of multiple, "little" things that have piled up on you.

For example, maybe you're stressed out because you have a big project coming up at work. Then, you're having trouble with a co-worker who has been harassing you every week. You go home, only to deal with the fact that your kid is flunking math and he's having trouble at school with a bully. Then, there's the trouble with your in-laws, and the fact that you're sleeping terribly, which makes you cranky and so irritable.

When stuff piles up on top of us like this, we start to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and tired. That combination oftentimes leads to anxiety.

You see? Anxiety happens for a lot of reasons. Usually, we can overcome the anxiety and move on with our lives. But, sometimes, that anxiety hangs around in our lives for a little too long. When this happens, anxiety "hardwires" itself in our brain. This is what leads to the development of anxiety disorders.

How Anxiety Feels

Anxiety can feel a little different for each person, but the main thing to remember is that anxiety is a physiological process in the body. That means that, when you become anxious, your body responds with multiple, physiological processes that lead to several somatic symptoms (aka: physical symptoms).

Here's a list of several questions my clients have asked me in the past about anxiety and physical symptoms they were experiencing:

Can anxiety cause chest pain?

Yes, anxiety can cause a "tightness" in your chest, which might feel uncomfortable or painful.

Can anxiety cause nausea?

Yes, anxiety can make you feel nauseous and cause you to throw up. This has to do with your Fight-or-Flight Response, which is triggered when you become anxious.

Can anxiety cause dizziness?

Yup! Due to your Fight-or-Flight response being activated, you can absolutely experience dizziness when anxious.

Can anxiety cause high blood pressure?

Unfortunately, the answer to this is "yes." When you feel anxious, your blood pressure rises. Chronic anxiety or chronic stress can lead to a hardening of the blood vessels, which, in turn, can cause hypertension (i.e. chronic high blood pressure).

Can anxiety cause stomach aches?

If you guessed "yes," then you're absolutely right. Anxiety can cause your stomach to cramp up and give you tummy aches.

Can anxiety cause diarrhea?

Yes it can. Your Fight-or-Flight response tends to slow your gastrointestinal processes, which can lead to diarrhea. Sucks, doesn't it?

Can anxiety cause headaches?

Yes. Because anxiety causes your blood pressure to rise, this can lead to headaches. If you have chronic headaches or migraines, consider evaluating your stress levels.

Can anxiety make you feel sick?

You guessed it! Yes it can. If you're experiencing dizziness, stomach aches, nausea, and/or diarrhea, that would qualify as "feeling sick." Many kids experience anxiety somatically, asking to stay home from school because they feel sick. But this happens to adults too!

If You Have Anxiety, Then You Need to Get Help

Anxiety is pretty intense and can wreck havoc on your body. Sometimes, anxiety seems to come out of nowhere, slowly creeping in on your life. Other times, WHAM! It hits you suddenly and hard, usually because of a major life event.

The good news is, anxiety is incredibly treatable. And the earlier you get help for your anxiety, the easier it is to treat, the faster you'll be rid of it, and the sooner you'll feel better.

Psychotherapy (i.e. counseling or therapy) is a prime source of treatment for anxiety. In my practice, treating anxiety and stress is one of my specialties. You're always welcome to reach out to me to learn more about how I can help you kick your anxiety to the curb.

However, if you're not sure you're ready to try therapy, consider signing up for an anti-anxiety workshop. This option allows you to learn from a trained, licensed professional, giving you the tools you need to reduce your stress and eliminate your anxiety. And of course, if you decide you need more 1-on-1 support after attending a workshop, you can always begin shopping for a therapist.

If you want to try an Anti-Anxiety Workshop, consider signing-up for mine. You can check it out at

Remember, don't wait to get treatment for your anxiety. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to treat, and the harder it is to see positive results from treatment. There's no reason to suffer, and there's no reason to wait another day to get help.

With that said, I hope you found this article useful. Until next time!

P.S. If you're ready to learn how to reduce your stress and eliminate your anxiety in my 6-week workshop, get all the information here.


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Krystal Dreisbach is a licensed therapist, mindset coach, adjunct professor of counseling, and published author.  Her specialties include depression treatment, anxiety counseling, stress management support, and mindset coaching.  Learn more about Krystal and see how she can help you live a better life.

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