Understanding Anxiety: Biological and Spiritual Causes

Anxious woman sitting on the floor - how to treat anxiety
Photo by Joice Kelly on Unsplash

Anxiety is usually a normal and healthy emotion in life. However, it becomes a medical disorder when a person regularly feels a disproportionate amount of anxiety that causes them excessive worry and a vague sense of unease without knowing the exact cause.

Not all anxiety is bad. In fact it can be helpful especially when you know exactly what is causing that anxiety. For example, sometimes we need a little bit of anxiety and stress at work or school. It motivates us to buckle down and do a good job. This kind of anxiety is normal and healthy.

However, anxiety can turn unhealthy when it becomes generalized and you feel anxious all the time. It is unhealthy if you cannot pinpoint exactly where your anxiety is coming from, and you have difficulty shaking it off. Our patients who suffer from severe anxiety are typically unable to say exactly what is causing them this feeling, which makes it all the more painful.

There are many types of anxiety:

There are many types of anxiety including the following below:

General anxiety disorder: where someone experiences excessive or unrealistic anxiety about various aspects of life. It is accompanied by physical symptoms such as muscle tension, difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

Social anxiety disorder: where someone experiences social phobia, or fear of contact with others because they fear being judged or perceived negatively by others.

Agoraphobia: a condition where someone experiences extreme and irrational fear of entering into open or crowded places, leaving one’s home, or in situations where they may feel ‘trapped’ such as public transportation.

Separation anxiety disorder: a condition where someone experiences excessive or extreme concern and fear of being separated from the ‘attachment figure.’

What causes Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders can be caused by many different factors such as:

  1. Environmental factors such as loud places
  2. Stress from personal relationships or work
  3. Stress from global events
  4. Traumatic events such as sexual assault
  5. Illicit substances
  6. Financial difficulties
  7. Major changes or loss of a loved one
  8. Medical factors
  9. Chemical imbalance in your brain
  10. Genetic factors

Our brain under stressful situations:

When we are confronted with a dangerous situation, we have 2 parts of the brain that become activated:

First, the cerebral cortex is activated, which is the outer layer of the brain and deals with higher brain functions such as learning, reasoning, memory. The second part is the amygdala nestled in the middle of the brain which deals with emotional processing.

The amygdala is the part of the brain that acts as a protector when you are faced with a dangerous or stressful situation. It sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus, which then triggers your adrenal glands to pump hormones into your bloodstream. This typically leads to an increased heart rate, constricted muscles, sweating, and dilated pupils. As the “protector”, the amygdala will activate the “fight or flight” response when faced with a dangerous or stressful situation.

The amygdala will also store emotional memories, such as frightening events in the past. When someone suffers from anxiety disorder or a post-traumatic stress disorder, this means that the amygdala can overreact to situations or triggers in the environment that are associated with negative experiences in the past. Therefore, even when a situation is not actually threatening to you, you can still suffer from a truly unpleasant experience.

The spiritual cause of anxiety:

The Bible explains that our anxieties come from a spiritual, root problem.

Just as therapy can help you figure out the emotional and subconscious root causes of anxiety, there are spiritual root causes that lead to anxiety-provoking problems and we need to examine this further.

The spiritual root causes of suffering:

God created all things with a purpose. He created the trees to be rooted in the ground, the flowers to flourish in the soil, the birds to command the air, the fish to live in the water, the animals to multiple on the earth. His most precious creation was Adam and Eve.

God created Man in his image and breathed his life into Man’s spirit who then became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

He made man to be with God and to have a relationship with Him. God created man to know Him and to realize that all his needs are met in God. Only man had this relationship with God because God’s light was in man’s spirit. Like a newborn with its mother, man is truly happy being with God.

Now God created man to have a mind and a free will. Genesis 2:16-17 records a tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden. God warned Adam and Eve to not eat the fruit from the tree in the Garden of Eden. Man had the free will to trust and believe God fully and completely. They had their free will to trust that only God has authority to judge between good and evil. God warned man that if they were to take it upon themselves to keep the perfect standard of good and evil, they would surely die.

Separation from God:

As soon as Adam and Eve ate the fruit, original sin entered man’s spirit and became separated from God. Just as fish separated from water means death, mankind separated from God means spiritual death (Romans 3:23 and 6:23).

Man becomes enslaved by the enemy Satan when separated from God and suffers from the following subsequent curses in his separation:

Spiritual suffering: Deep, unquenched spiritual thirst or longing that leads to all kinds of idolatry.

Mental suffering: Caused by a myriad of different mental disorders from depression to severe anxiety to panic disorders.

Physical suffering: This is manifested in diseases such as cancer or any form of physical pain.

Physical death and judgment thereafter.

Generational suffering: Our suffering gets passed down to our children and their children.

These curses plague humanity because of the original sin that occurred in the Garden of Eden. Humans can try their hardest but cannot solve these problems. The good news is that God has shown us the way out. He sent His beloved son Jesus Christ to cleanse all our sins and free us from eternal bondage to Satan. In other words, Christ has paid our debts and paved the way for our salvation (John 14:6).

How does the Gospel actually help me with my real, current problems?

As renewed children of God, the Lord promises us that:

–  John 14:14: He will hear our prayers and answer them.
– Luke 10:19: He gives me authority, the ability to fight Satan and his deceptions.
– Hebrews 1:14: He also provides His angels to minister to me.
– Philippians 3:20: He guarantees for me a home in Heaven, in eternal paradise.
– Psalm 57:2: He has an awesome purpose and plan for my life, to bless the world with this good news. All the problems I face will never be in vain.

We hope that by believing in Jesus, and believing that He has helped solve the spiritual root problem we experience in our lives, we can face our anxieties and everyday problems with hope.

We hope that you will begin to see that God’s love for you is larger than your current problems.

We hope you can see that His plan for you is great. So even though you are suffering from anxiety, you can trust in Him and know He is near. Otherwise, the enemy wants you to continue worrying and despairing in your life taking you further and further away from God.

You can watch the accompanying Anchor of Hope video here.

Enjoyed our blogpost? Subscribe to our newsletter for more resources on mental health and integrating the Gospel message in your healing journey.

If you found our resources useful, please consider donating to Oak Health Foundation, which is a 501(3)c nonprofit dedicated to providing resources regarding holistic mental healthcare and subsidized treatment for those in need.

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