It is not always possible to say what causes someone to develop anxiety. In some cases there may be a stressful event—such as the death of a loved one or being made redundant—which triggers it off. It may also follow on from a major upheaval such as moving house. Even if this is something we’ve chosen to do, it creates a lot of worry and disruption in our lives. On other occasions, someone may have experienced a gradual build-up of pressure in their lives which makes them particularly vulnerable. Things may not be going well at work or in at important relationship. We may be trying to juggle many different demands on us and satisfy them all. This is particularly the case for women who are working and who also have to make sure children are cared for. We may be apprehensive about the future—perhaps because of the ill health of someone dear to us, as a result of financial problems, or of children leaving home. We tend to think that ‘stress’ implies being too busy and pressured. But if we are in a situation where we don’t have enough to do, this can be just as difficult to cope with. If we’re unemployed or in a boring job which we don’t enjoy, we may become frustrated and depressed and find ourselves at a low ebb. It is not only recent events which can contribute to anxiety. Things which happened in our past and even things we don’t fully remember can affect us later. We still have the feelings of fear and distress, although we can’t identify what the bad thing was which led us to feel this way. Often, too, we become set in a way of looking at the world which confirms our worst fears and feeds our anxieties. The horrors we see on the news may convince us further that we are quite right to feel frightened. If things go wrong in our own lives, this only confirms our worst expectations and reinforces our anxiety.
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