Causes of Anxiety Disorders (Physical Disorder or Drug)

Anxiety can also be caused by a general medical disorder or the use or discontinuation (withdrawal) of a drug.

General medical disorders that can cause anxiety include the following:

  • Heart disorders, such as:
    • Heart failure; and
    • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Hormonal (endocrine) disorders, such as:
    • An overactive adrenal gland (hyperadrenocorticism); or
    • Thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism); or
    • A hormone-secreting tumour called a pheochromocytoma.
  • Lung (respiratory) disorders, such as:
    • Asthma; and
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Even fever can cause anxiety.

Anxiety may occur in dying people as a result of fear of death, pain, and difficulty breathing.

Drugs that can trigger anxiety include the following:

  • Alcohol;
  • Stimulants (such as amphetamines);
  • Caffeine;
  • Cocaine;
  • Many prescription drugs, such as corticosteroids; and
  • Some over-the-counter weight-loss products, such as those containing:
    • The herbal product guarana;
    • Caffeine; or
    • Both.

Withdrawal from alcohol or sedatives, such as benzodiazepines (used to treat anxiety disorders), can cause anxiety and other symptoms, such as insomnia and restlessness.

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