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27 People Explain What Triggers Their Anxiety

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Despite the fact that anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States, it’s still a commonly misunderstood condition. And it may be easy to get frustrated with a loved one with anxiety when you can’t empathize.

To better understand the people who live with this condition, we asked our readers to tell us some surprising and unexpected situations that trigger their anxiety or panic attacks. It’s important to remember each person experiences anxiety differently and in different situations — the best thing you can do is be patient and if your loved one is comfortable, ask questions.

27 People Explain What Triggers Their Anxiety:

1. “Sudden changes in plans, even when the new plan is actually better than the original. It’s especially bad if I’m only given vague explanations of what’s to come, no matter how much I trust the other person.” — Nicole Ricketts

2. “Driving.” — Mary Salemi

3. “Feeling stuck or trapped where I can’t leave if I want to.” — Annah Elizabeth


4. “TV shows that remind me of a specific time period. Last night I saw a rerun of a show I used to watch while I was going through a traumatic time with my child’s illness… I had a full blown anxiety and panic attack… even though we’re in a good spot now, all the old fear rushed in.” — Katherine Mirrfy

5. “Going places I haven’t been before — noisy, busy places.” — Angela Atherton

6. “My family.” — Kelly Hunt


7. “Men. And I don’t mean that in a funny way. Men give me anxiety. I’m beyond uncomfortable around guys I don’t know or don’t know well. I can’t look them in the eyes, I stutter when I speak, and I’m just plain terrified. I can be having a great time at a party with 20 people there, both men and women, but as soon as a guy shows up who I don’t know and trust, I become a totally different person. I hate it.” — Amanda K Walker

8. “Someone knocking at the front door. Even if it’s the postman.” — Luna Mireles


9. “Certain days of the year, feeling like a situation has no solution, being alone for too long, waiting on someone to arrive, the unknown, not being able to get ahold of loved ones… the list could go on.” — Katie Smeltzer Ireland

10. “The song ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas.’ We were often in the hospital around Christmas time.” — Michelle King

11. “Weather. I need to check it constantly, and I’m in a state of panic — not just while the storm is going on but for hours beforehand. I stay up all night waiting for them often.” — Amanda Burgess

12. “Angry tones of voices and angry eyes.” — Jessica Spears Williams


13. “Bedtime because I never fall asleep and my mind races.” — Anne McClain Rose

14. “Bridges.” — Carmen N. Phillip Dorigatti

15. “Loud noises, raised voices, unreasonable anger, people walking toward me, filling in forms, making mistakes, driving, cooking food that may make others ill (like chicken), anything poisonous, making decisions, my health, getting out of bed in a hurry, visitors and worrying about what others are thinking.” — Amanda McCabe

16. “A bunch of people talking at once.” — Nicole Whitman


17. “Stress and caffeine.” — Tonya Guynn- Joseph

18. “Money.” — Theresa Belcourt

19. “Meeting new people.” — Kim Messinger


20. “Being alone and being around people. Sigh.” — Megan Crisp

21. “Having to make concrete plans. I hate being locked in to social situations.” — Rachel Post

22. “Low blood sugar. If I forget to eat I find myself close to panic attack territory. When I can remember to get good protein and good fats in, I’m not usually as anxious.” — Allie Fread Bernier


23. “I still have unknown triggers still at 32.” — S.m. Morgan

24. “Places I’ve had a panic attack before, being called out for something I’m already embarrassed about in a social setting and eating in front of people, to name a few.” — Alex Wickham

25. “Death.” — Rosana Vargas

26. “Helicopters and going to the gym.” — Jennifer Russell

27. “Trying to make too many people happy at once.” — Mia Pajene


 For more resources on anxiety disorders, or for more information about getting help, visit Mental Health America.

Do you have a story about your experience with mental illness? We want to hear it. Please send it to and include a photo for the story, a photo of yourself and a 1-2 sentence bio. More info here. Thanks!

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Originally published: May 29, 2015
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