Getting Effective Treatment: Identifying Anxiety Triggers

Health Writer

As we begin this New Year, I have begun posting a series of articles on helping to get the best possible treatment for your anxiety in the coming year. Last week, I posted information on creating an effective treatment plan and hope that many of you found information you can use to create a plan of action for managing your anxiety.

This week, we will discuss identifying anxiety triggers.

When treating anxiety, it is important to manage symptoms of anxiety, such as chronic worrying, heart palpitations, sweating or shaking. However, it is just as important to discover the triggers of anxiety.

Triggers can be either physical or emotional. Some triggers may be obvious, such as seeing a relative that has been abusive in the past or visiting a place filled with bad memories. But sometimes, our triggers are not so obvious. Treating anxiety is more than learning how to manage symptoms. It is also understanding triggers and facing each one in order to alleviate, or at least minimize, the trigger's effect on us.

The following worksheet can help you to identify some of the anxiety triggers in your life. (You can print out this worksheet by clicking on the print button.) Each trigger you identify should include additional information: how intense anxiety symptoms trigger and what specific anxiety symptoms you experience are when faced with this trigger. Once you complete a chart of triggers, you should share the information with your counselor, therapist or other mental health professional to develop a plan of action for facing each trigger without experiencing anxiety symptoms.

Trigger

Rate Level of Anxiety

(1-10, with 10 being an extremely high level of anxiety)

Major anxiety symptoms when faced with this trigger (Examples: heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, nausea, hyperventilation, escape, headache, hot flashes, intense emotional outburst)

Being in public

Meeting a specific person (list who)

Speaking in front of people

Being hurt or in pain

Financial or money

Being alone

Death

Appearance

Being criticized

Being sick

Thinking about the future

Impending separation or divorce

Parents/Siblings

Taking medication

Bugs/Insects

Animals

Failure

Performing poorly at school or work

Interacting with coworkers

Storms/Thunder or lightning

Interacting with a stranger

Saying something "wrong"

Thinking about the future

Making a mistake

Natural disasters

Arguments

Other:

Once you have completed this chart, you may be able to see a pattern of what types of triggers cause you the most discomfort.

By working closely with your therapist, counselor or other mental health professional, you can begin to tackle each trigger and find coping strategies to help you manage your emotional reaction to the situation.

For more information:

Creating an Effective Treatment Plan

Out of the Blue to Blue's Clues: Finding Clues for Your Anxiety Triggers

Stress Triggers