Start the Admissions Process Online

Fill out your information to receive a free, confidential call from the team at All Points North.

0207 193 1128

What Causes Anxiety?

Written by Jonathan Perry

Anxiety is a complex and prevalent mental health issue that touches the lives of millions. While it’s a term we often hear, understanding its causes and the vast array of available treatments is crucial for those affected. In this blog, we’ll delve into the biological, environmental, and individual factors contributing to anxiety. Then, we’ll unravel practical coping strategies, from lifestyle adjustments to traditional treatment options.

Biological Factors Contributing to Anxiety

At its core, anxiety is influenced by genetics. In other words, some people may find themselves predisposed to anxious tendencies due to their DNA. This can lead to chemical imbalances in the brain that contribute to heightened anxiety levels and panic attacks. Understanding these biological factors allows us to approach anxiety with a more scientifically informed perspective. By acknowledging the role of our genes and brain chemistry, we can more effectively understand the complexities of anxiety.

Environmental Factors That Cause Anxiety

Because our surroundings play a pivotal role in shaping our mental landscape, healing often works from the outside in. Stressful life events, like professional challenges or personal crises, can act as catalysts for anxiety. Similarly, traumatic experiences from our past, especially those rooted in childhood, can cast long shadows on our mental well-being. Identifying these environmental triggers is the first step towards crafting effective coping strategies.

Personality and Individual Differences Associated With Anxiety

People cope with stress in different ways. Some individuals may naturally possess coping mechanisms that act as shields against anxiety, while others may need to cultivate these strategies consciously. What’s an effective coping strategy for one person may not be as effective for another. Recognising and understanding these individual differences empowers us to tailor our approach to anxiety management.

How Do I Deal with Anxiety?

Lifestyle Changes

The saying “a healthy mind is a healthy body” rings true regarding anxiety management. Studies show regular exercise and physical activity reduce anxiety levels, releasing endorphins that act as natural mood lifters. Similarly, the impact of diet and nutrition on mental health can’t be overstated. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants have been linked to a lower risk of anxiety disorders. Additionally, prioritising quality sleep is a non-negotiable pillar of a robust mental health routine.

Stress Management Techniques

In our fast-paced lives, stress is often an unwelcome companion. Incorporating mindfulness and meditation practices can be transformative, offering a refuge from the chaos of daily life. These techniques teach us to ground ourselves in the present moment, helping build resilience in times of uncertainty. Additionally, relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, provide practical tools for immediate relief during moments of heightened anxiety.

Social Support

Isolation can amplify anxiety, underscoring the importance of social connections. Whether from friends, family, or support groups, seeking and fostering relationships is a fundamental aspect of anxiety management. Sharing our struggles and triumphs with a supportive network can provide valuable insight while reminding us we are not alone.

Traditional Treatment Options for Anxiety


For many, medication is a cornerstone of anxiety treatment. From antidepressants to mood stabilisers, the mechanisms of action involve the modulation of neurotransmitters to alleviate symptoms and stabilise mood. Understanding how these medications work and their potential side effects equips individuals and healthcare professionals with the necessary information to make informed decisions about their treatment plans.


Psychotherapy provides practical tools for managing and overcoming anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy are two practical psychotherapeutic approaches. CBT addresses distorted thought patterns, promoting healthier responses to anxiety-inducing situations. On the other hand, exposure therapy involves gradually facing fears, helping individuals build resilience and tolerance over time.

Success Rates of Traditional Treatments

While traditional treatments have shown success, it’s essential to acknowledge their limitations. The efficacy of medication may vary from person to person, and some individuals may experience side effects that influence their quality of life. Similarly, psychotherapy’s effectiveness depends on various factors, including the individual’s willingness to engage and the specific nature of their anxiety.

In the second part of this exploration, we’ll venture into innovative treatments like ketamine and deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS), examining how they offer unique avenues for anxiety relief that complement traditional approaches. These cutting-edge interventions provide hope for people seeking alternatives or additional strategies in their journey towards mental well-being.

Identifying Barriers to Success

For some individuals, the traditional therapeutic journey may hit roadblocks, leaving them wondering what’s next on their path to mental wellness. Identifying these barriers is a crucial step toward finding alternative avenues. A mismatch with a therapist, while common, can hinder progress. Sometimes, personalities may not align, or therapeutic approaches may not resonate. A lack of engagement or commitment, whether due to external factors or personal readiness, can also impede the effectiveness of anxiety therapy. Acknowledging these barriers opens the door to exploring alternative therapeutic modalities.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy for Anxiety

In recent years, a substance known for its anaesthetic properties has been making waves in the world of mental health. Ketamine, historically used in surgeries and as a powerful pain reliever, has found a renewed purpose in psychiatric applications. The shift from the operating room to the therapist’s office highlights the intriguing potential of this compound in alleviating anxiety.

Mechanism of Action

Ketamine’s efficacy in treating anxiety lies in its ability to modulate NMDA receptors in the brain. This modulation induces neurobiological changes, particularly affecting neuroplasticity – the brain’s capacity to reorganise itself. This unique mechanism sets ketamine apart from traditional medications, offering a novel pathway for therapeutic intervention.

Research Findings on Ketamine for Anxiety

A growing body of research substantiates the journey of ketamine from operating tables to anxiety treatment. Numerous clinical trials and studies have explored its impact on various anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These investigations reveal promising results, indicating that ketamine could be a game-changer for those seeking relief from anxiety.

Patient testimonials further underline the transformative potential of ketamine. Stories of individuals who have experienced profound improvements in their anxiety attack symptoms after ketamine treatments emphasise the need to explore different paths in the search for mental well-being. However, it’s important to note that while ketamine shows promise, its long-term effects and optimal usage still require further research.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS): Pioneering the Future of Anxiety Relief

Overview of Deep TMS

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) represents another groundbreaking approach to anxiety treatment. Diverging from traditional therapies, dTMS involves using an electromagnetic coil to deliver magnetic pulses to specific brain regions. This innovation allows for a more targeted and potentially more effective treatment for anxiety disorders.

Mechanism of Action

In dTMS, the electromagnetic pulses create currents that activate or inhibit neurons in the targeted brain regions, bringing about changes in neural activity. The neurobiological effects of dTMS extend beyond the treatment sessions, contributing to long-term changes within the brain.

Studies and Evidence Supporting dTMS for Anxiety

Scientific exploration into the efficacy of dTMS for anxiety has produced encouraging results. Clinical trials and outcomes indicate that this innovative approach holds promise for various anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The comparison with traditional treatments showcases dTMS as a potential alternative for individuals with treatment-resistant anxiety.

Complementing Traditional Approaches with Innovative Treatments

Integration of Ketamine and dTMS with Medication and Psychotherapy

The landscape of anxiety treatment is evolving, presenting an opportunity for a holistic approach that integrates traditional and innovative methods. Ketamine and dTMS can complement existing therapies, addressing anxiety comprehensively. By combining these modalities with medication and psychotherapy, patients can address their anxiety from different angles.

Potential Synergies and Enhanced Efficacy

The synergy between traditional and innovative treatments can lead to better overall results. Combined approaches recognise that people may respond differently to various interventions, making room for personalised treatment plans. A tailored strategy increases the likelihood of improved outcomes by acknowledging the multifaceted nature of anxiety and the need for individualised care.

Addressing anxiety across different dimensions increases the likelihood of comprehensive improvement. Diving into deeply held beliefs with psychotherapy while improving brain chemistry with dTMS can compound benefits, yielding better outcomes than either approach alone. In other words, a multidimensional approach often requires a multifaceted solution.

Takeaways: Anxiety Treatments

Understanding that anxiety is multidimensional is vital to mental well-being. Traditional treatments provide valuable tools, but the emergence of innovative approaches like ketamine therapy and dTMS broadens the horizon of possibilities. Let’s move towards a more holistic understanding of anxiety by acknowledging potential synergies and tailoring treatment to individual needs.

At APN London, we promote a multidimensional perspective, inspiring individuals to explore the diverse options available for personalised care in their mental health journey. In embracing comprehensive mental wellness, we find treatment plans that move people toward optimal wellbeing. Our holistic approach is rich with the potential for transformative change, offering hope and resilience to those seeking relief from anxiety. Call 0203 984 7699 or complete our online contact form to learn more about our anxiety treatment options.


  • Aylett, Elizabeth et al. “Exercise in the treatment of clinical anxiety in general practice – a systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMC health services research vol. 18,1 559. 16 Jul. 2018, doi:10.1186/s12913-018-3313-5
  • Cirillo, Patricia et al. “Transcranial magnetic stimulation in anxiety and trauma-related disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Brain and behavior vol. 9,6 (2019): e01284. doi:10.1002/brb3.1284
  • Falk, Eduard et al. “A rapid positive influence of S-ketamine on the anxiety of patients in palliative care: a retrospective pilot study.” BMC palliative care vol. 19,1 1. 3 Jan. 2020, doi:10.1186/s12904-019-0499-1