The Flight or fight response can still sometimes be life-saving when meeting a real danger like, for example, stepping in front of a speeding car. 

Nowadays, however, the reasons we feel anxious are not usually life-threatening and are more likely to be situations, such as:

  • getting stuck in a traffic jam
  • catching a rush-hour train
  • walking through a crowded shopping centre
  • running late for an important appointment or deadline

These everyday experiences can trigger the same automatic response and we react and feel as if we’re in real physical danger.

Everyone will face stressful situations like these and feel anxious from time to time. Usually the feelings pass once the situation is over. Sometimes, however, anxiety can be more severe and go on for longer. 

You may be having a stressful time in your life such as going through a bereavement, relationship problems, work or money worries or becoming a parent. Many people have been feeling more anxious than usual during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sometimes it can be hard to know what’s causing your anxiety which can be frustrating and upsetting in itself. 

  • Some people are naturally more cautious or thoughtful and may be more likely to feel anxious and worry more.
  • Some symptoms of anxiety or low mood can have an underlying physical health cause including problems like thyroid dysfunction, too little or too much calcium, severe vitamin B12 deficiency and severe anaemia. They can also be part of another issue such as depression, psychosis or drug use.
  • It’s also possible that an upsetting or traumatic life experience, whether recent or in the past, can be linked to feelings of anxiety. A past experience can make you more anxious about bad things happening again.
  • Early experiences (particularly under the age of 3) can also be a factor. Children who feel fear more often, don’t feel protected or experience disruption like parents’ separation or moving schools are more likely to experience anxiety as adults. And a child who sees a parent constantly worrying may learn this behaviour and worry more as an adult.