When is shaking a sign of anxiety? It is a valid question many people ask themselves, as we all experience occasional stress and worry in our lives. From a trembling voice or those pesky hands that won’t stop shaking, it is natural to be concerned about what is causing the shaking and whether that is linked to anxiety.
Understanding the relationship between anxiety and shaking is an excellent way to help better manage symptoms and improve overall well-being. In this article, we will explore if – and why – shaking is sometimes a sign of anxiety.
Body Shakes And Tremors
Body shakes and tremors are involuntary movements of the body, usually occurring in the arms, legs, hands, or feet. Tremors can range from mild to severe and are caused by problems with the nervous system. Body shakes and tremors can be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), essential tremor, or dystonia.
Examples of common body shake include:
- Quivering lips or chin.
- Nervous tics such as twitching eyes or facial muscles.
- Shaking hands, fingers, arms, and legs.
- Trembling while speaking.
- Uncontrollable shaking of the torso/shoulders.
- Rapid breathing (hyperventilation).
- Twitching feet and toes.
4 Types of Body Shakes
The types of body shake experienced can vary based on the underlying cause. Generally, there are three main categories of body shakes: physiological, psychological, and physical.
Physiological shakes are caused by emotions such as fear or stress and are often accompanied by a racing heart rate or increased breathing. Psychological tremors may be due to anxiety or panic attacks, while physical shakes could be symptoms of an underlying neurological disorder. Here are some of the common types of body shakes:
1. Essential Tremor:
Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes shaking in the arms, hands, head, and voice. It is the most common type of tremor and can affect up to 10 million people in the United States.
Symptoms typically start during middle age and are characterized by trembling of both hands simultaneously when performing simple tasks such as drinking from a cup or writing with a pen. In some cases, essential tremors can cause speech problems due to uncontrolled movements of the vocal cords and tongue.
Some of the common ways essential tremors manifest in people:
- Uncontrollable trembling of the hands or arms.
- Voice tremors or stuttering while speaking.
- Head nodding or shaking during conversations.
- Difficulty drinking from a cup, writing with a pen, typing on a keyboard, or using utensils.
- Excessive blinking and twitching of facial muscles.
2. Resting Tremor:
Resting tremor is a type of involuntary shaking that occurs when the body is at rest. It usually affects the hands, arms, legs, or chin and can be caused by an underlying neurological disorder such as Parkinson’s disease.
Resting tremor is characterized by rhythmic shaking during periods of inactivity such as when sitting or lying down. The trembling typically worsens with stress or fatigue and can interfere with everyday activities such as eating, dressing, writing, and speaking.
Some common symptoms associated with resting tremors include:
- Uncontrollable shaking while sitting or lying down.
- Movements that look like wringing one’s hands together.
- Shaking of the head or chin while speaking.
- Slow, unsteady movements of the hands or feet when walking.
3. Intention Tremor:
Intention tremor is a type of involuntary shaking that occurs when the body is in motion. It usually affects the head, arms, or hands and can be caused by an underlying neurological disorder such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebellar ataxia. Intention tremor occurs when a person attempts to make voluntary movements such as reaching for an object on a table.
This type of tremor makes it difficult for them to perform simple tasks requiring precise hand-eye coordination due to involuntary shaking movements that interfere with their ability to accurately reach for items. The trembling typically worsens with stress or fatigue and can interfere with everyday activities such as writing, using utensils, playing musical instruments, and speaking.
Some common symptoms associated with intention tremor include:
- Uncontrollable shaking while moving the hands or feet.
- Slurred speech or difficulty articulating words due to tremors in the tongue and lips.
- Difficulty controlling hand movements such as holding a pen.
- Difficulty walking due to unsteady, jerky movements of the feet and legs.
- Uncontrollable shaking in the chest, arms, or hands when attempting to perform physical tasks such as lifting weights or carrying objects.
4. Dystonic Tremor:
A dystonic tremor is a type of involuntary shaking that occurs when the body is in motion. It usually affects the face, neck, or other parts of the body and can be caused by an underlying neurological disorder such as dystonia. A dystonic tremor occurs when muscles contract involuntarily and cause jerky movements or postures.
This type of tremor is often accompanied by spasms that can affect speech and swallowing. The trembling typically worsens with stress or fatigue and can interfere with everyday activities such as writing, using utensils, playing musical instruments, speaking, or drinking from a cup.
Some common symptoms associated with dystonic tremors include:
- Uncontrollable twitching of the face, neck, or torso while at rest.
- Spasmodic or jerky motions of the chin, lips, tongue, and cheeks while speaking.
- Difficulty controlling hand movements such as using utensils.
- • Difficulty walking due to unsteady, jerky movements of the feet and legs.
- Excessive blinking and twitching of facial muscles.
Is Shaking A Sign Of Anxiety
Yes, shaking can be a sign of anxiety. Anxiety is an emotional response to stress or fear and can manifest in physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating, and heart palpitations. Shaking associated with anxiety typically occurs when the body is in motion such as when attempting to complete a task that requires fine motor skills or cognitive abilities.
It may also occur during periods of rest such as when sitting still or lying down.
Shaking caused by anxiety can be very disruptive since it interferes with everyday activities such as writing, using utensils, playing musical instruments, speaking, drinking from a cup, etc. This type of tremor tends to worsen with stress or fatigue and people often report difficulty controlling their movements due to involuntary shaking.
According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, approximately 20% of people with generalized anxiety disorder experience trembling or shaking due to their symptoms. Another study found that nearly 50% of individuals with panic disorders experience periods of shaking or trembling that can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.
In addition, some research suggests that certain types of tremors may be linked to anxiety and stress-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and social phobia. For example, one study found that participants who experienced prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD exhibited an increase in tremor severity following treatment sessions compared to those who did not receive treatment.
Overall, shaking can be a sign of anxiety and is more common in people with certain stress-related conditions. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently and if you are experiencing shaking or other physical symptoms it’s best to seek professional help from a doctor or mental health specialist.
4 Causes And Types Of Shaking Associated With Anxiety
Anxiety can cause a wide variety of physical symptoms, including trembling or shaking. This is often due to an imbalance in chemicals and hormones that are released during stress, muscle tension, hyperarousal, and sensory overload.
There may also be psychological and environmental factors at play. It’s important to understand the different causes and types of shaking associated with anxiety so you can identify your triggers and find ways to manage them.
Tremors are one of the most common types of shaking associated with anxiety. Tremors happen when the body experiences a state of heightened arousal and the muscles start to quiver uncontrollably. This type of shaking is usually only noticed in the hands, arms, legs, and sometimes even the head.
The cause of tremors is linked to an imbalance in neurotransmitters that control movement and arousal in the body.
2. Muscle Twitching or Spasms
Muscle twitching or spasms are another types of shaking associated with anxiety. These involve sudden, involuntary contractions and relaxations of muscles in different parts of the body.
They can result from increased tension in the affected muscle group and can cause severe discomfort or pain. Muscle twitches can last for seconds or minutes and can be triggered by emotional stress as well as physical exertion.
Rigidity is another type of shaking associated with anxiety disorders. This occurs when muscles become tense and contract, leading to a feeling of stiffness throughout the body. It can cause difficulty with movement as well as distress from an inability to relax.
Anxiety-related rigidity is caused by an imbalance in hormones such as dopamine, cortisol, oxytocin, serotonin, and norepinephrine which are all involved in controlling muscle tension and relaxation.
4. Shaking During Panic Attacks
Shaking during panic attacks is another type of shaking associated with anxiety disorders. When someone experiences panic attacks they may feel intense fear which results in their body trembling uncontrollably due to a rush of adrenaline coursing through their system.
The causes for this type of shaking are believed to be related to a combination of both mental and physiological stress responses. Such as increased heart rate, sweating, rapid breathing, and hyperarousal which creates a feeling of terror that triggers rapid muscle movements resulting in trembling or shaking sensations throughout the body.
What Causes Shaking From Anxiety?
The cause of shaking from anxiety is often related to the fight-or-flight response, which is a natural reaction that occurs in response to perceived danger. During this response, adrenaline and other hormones are released into the bloodstream which causes physical changes such as increased heart rate, breathing rate, and muscle tension.
In some cases, these physical changes can lead to trembling or shaking throughout the body due to the elevated stress levels associated with anxiety. There are several potential causes of shaking related to anxiety, including:
- Imbalance in neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin help regulate mood and behavior and an imbalance of these chemicals may lead to anxiety symptoms such as trembling or shaking.
- Stress hormones: Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released when we’re feeling anxious or scared and these hormones can cause trembling or shaking in the body.
- Muscle tension: Anxiety can lead to physical symptoms such as muscle tension, which can cause trembling or shaking in the body.
- Hyperarousal: Hyperarousal is a state of heightened awareness and sensitivity that often accompanies anxiety and panic attacks, which can produce tremors or shake.
- Sensory overload: When we’re feeling overwhelmed by our environment or situation, our bodies may react with trembling or shaking as a way to cope.
Some Other Causes Of Shaking From Anxiety
In addition to the above-mentioned causes, there are some other potential explanations for why you may be experiencing shaking due to anxiety. These include:
Anxiety shakes can be caused by the body’s natural response to stress. This is known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, and it involves the release of chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine into the bloodstream. These hormones can cause a person to feel tense, nervous, and shaky.
They may also experience an increased heart rate and breathing rate as well as sweaty palms or feet. It is important that people understand their body’s reactions to stressful situations so they can better manage them.
The psychological causes of anxiety shakes can vary from person to person depending on their mental state, life experiences, and other factors. Some common psychological causes are fear of failure, guilt or shame, worries about the future, unresolved trauma, and even social anxiety. When people experience these feelings often enough it can cause physical symptoms such as shakes or tremors.
Environmental triggers are external factors that can contribute to anxiety shakes. These triggers could include loud noises, bright lights, or crowded spaces which may trigger a reaction in people who have a heightened sense of sensory input due to feeling anxious or stressed out in certain situations.
People who have experienced traumatic events in the past may also be more prone to experiencing these types of reactions when exposed to environmental triggers associated with those events. It is important for people to identify what their environmental triggers are in order to avoid them or learn how to cope with them in a healthy way.
Psychogenic tremors, also known as “psychiatric tremors”, are a type of movement disorder that can occur in response to psychological stress or emotional problems. They are one of the most common physical symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Psychogenic tremors usually appear as rhythmic twitches or vibrations in a person’s hands, arms, head, or face. These tremors can range from mild to severe and may be continuous or intermittent. In some cases, the tremors may be so severe that it affects a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks such as writing or typing.
The causes of psychogenic tremors are not fully understood but there are certain theories that suggest an association between psychological and physiological factors. These include increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and neurological changes caused by stress-related disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is also believed that psychogenic tremors may be caused by the decreased blood supply to parts of the brain responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movements. This lack of oxygenation could lead to involuntary twitching in various parts of the body.
Regardless of their cause, psychogenic tremors should not be ignored and should be treated promptly to minimize any potential long-term effects. Treatment typically involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which helps people identify and address the underlying psychological issues associated with their tremors. Medication like SSRIs and anticonvulsants can also help reduce the severity of the condition if necessary.
How To Manage Anxiety-Related Shaking: 4 Helpful Tips
Anxiety-related shaking can be difficult to manage at times, but there are a few techniques that you can use to help reduce your symptoms. Understanding the root cause of your anxiety and learning how to recognize and cope with triggers will help you better control your physical reactions in stressful situations. Here are some tips for managing anxiety-related shaking:
1. Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing is a form of relaxation that focuses on slowly inhaling and exhaling in order to reduce stress levels. Taking slow, deep breaths helps to calm down the body’s “fight or flight” response and can quickly reduce shaking caused by anxiety. Focus on inhaling deeply through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth.
This will help oxygenate the body, reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety.
This type of technique can be very helpful for dealing with anxiety-related shaking, as it encourages the body to return to its natural state of calm. Start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position and begin taking slow, deep breaths focusing on each inhalation and exhalation. As you become more aware of your breath, notice any areas where tension may be held until they gradually loosen and relax.
Exercise has been proven to reduce both physical and psychological symptoms associated with anxiety. Regular physical activity releases endorphins, which are chemicals that act as natural mood enhancers. Exercise can also help to reduce stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol, helping to ease physical symptoms of anxiety like shaking.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day and choose activities that you enjoy such as walking, swimming, or running. Additionally, yoga and tai-chi have been found to be helpful for reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
3. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are known triggers of anxiety and can lead to increased levels of stress in the body. Avoiding these substances or limiting your intake can help reduce symptoms of anxiousness including shaking. If you do consume caffeine or alcohol, try to stick to moderate amounts and avoid drinking late at night as this can disrupt your sleep patterns.
4. Seek Professional Help
If you feel that your anxiety-related shaking is impacting your life negatively, it is important to seek professional help. Talking to a mental health professional can help you identify the root cause of your anxiety and develop coping strategies for managing symptoms.
There are many types of therapy available such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based therapies which have been shown to be effective in reducing stress levels and improving well-being. Also, medication may be prescribed if necessary. Seeking professional help will ensure that you receive the best possible care and support to help you manage your anxiety-related shaking.
When to Seek Medical Help for Anxiety-Related Shaking
If you experience shaking or trembling that is accompanied by other symptoms of anxiety such as a racing heart, sweating, and difficulty breathing, it is important to seek medical help. Anxiety-related shaking can be a warning sign of an underlying psychological issue that needs treatment.
Additionally, if your anxiety-related shaking is severe and interferes with daily activities, seeking professional help is recommended. A doctor will be able to assess the severity of your symptoms and refer you for further testing if necessary. It is important to note that in some cases the cause of the shaking may be related to a physical condition such as Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor rather than anxiety.
Therefore, it is advised to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis before beginning any form of treatment.
4 Treatment Options for Anxiety-Related Shaking
Anxiety-related shaking can be managed using a combination of lifestyle changes, self-help techniques and professional help. There are a number of effective treatment options available to help reduce symptoms of anxiousness and promote relaxation. These include:
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It works by helping the individual to identify and challenge irrational thoughts or beliefs that are causing them distress and replace them with more positive, adaptive ones.
By learning how to manage their own thoughts, individuals can become better able to control their emotions and reduce symptoms of anxiety such as shaking. CBT typically involves working closely with a trained therapist who will help you identify your triggers for anxiousness and develop coping strategies for managing these feelings.
2. Mindfulness-Based Therapies
Mindfulness-based therapies involve practicing techniques such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques. These can help to reduce anxiety levels and promote a feeling of inner peace and calmness.
Mindfulness-based therapies focus on being in the present moment, acknowledging thoughts and feelings without judgment, and accepting them rather than trying to fight or control them.
By practicing mindfulness regularly, symptoms of anxiousness such as shaking can be reduced over time.
In some cases, medication may be prescribed by your doctor to manage symptoms of anxiety-related shaking. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are commonly used to treat chronic anxiety and related conditions such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is important to note that medications should always be combined with lifestyle changes and psychotherapy for the best results in reducing anxiety levels.
These are the most common treatments for managing anxiety-related shaking.
It is important to consult with a professional to determine the best course of treatment for your particular situation. With proper help, you can learn how to manage your anxiousness and reduce symptoms of shaking.
4. Herbal or Alternative Remedies
Herbal or alternative treatments for anxiety-related shaking can offer an additional, natural option for managing symptoms. While there is limited scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of these remedies, some individuals may find that they are helpful in reducing their anxiety levels and calming nervousness.
Popular herbal supplements include chamomile, valerian root, lavender, and St John’s wort. It is important to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements as certain herbs may interact with medication or have other side effects. Additionally, some herbs are not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
These are just a few of the available treatment options for managing anxiety-related shaking. Every individual’s experience is unique, so it is important to consult with your doctor or mental health professional to find the best course of action for you. With the right help and support, it is possible to manage anxiety-related shaking and lead a more relaxed lifestyle.
Shaking can be a sign of anxiety, but it is important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently. With the right help and support, it is possible to manage symptoms of anxiousness and reduce shaking.
There are many different treatment options available to help individuals regain control over their emotions and lead a more relaxed lifestyle. It is important to consult with your doctor or mental health professional in order to find the best course of action for you.
Anxiety can be overwhelming, but by understanding what triggers our feelings of fear and distress we can take back control and lead calmer lives. With proper care, we can effectively manage our symptoms of anxiousness including shaking so that we may live life to its fullest potential.
Lundervold, D. A., Ament, P. A., & Holt, P. (2013). Social Anxiety, Tremor Severity, and Tremor Disability: A Search for Clinically Relevant Measures. Psychiatry Journal, 2013, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/257459
Fletcher, J. (2020, April 3). What to know about anxiety shaking. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/anxiety-shaking