Have you ever experienced moments of intense fear or anxiety that seemed so bad, they physically manifested as shivering? Sure, many people experience a chill when they’re scared or intimidated, but is it possible that shivering is more than just a reaction to feeling cold – is it a sign of anxiety? In this article, we’ll discuss the ways in which shivering can be an indicator of stress and how to address/manage it.
Is Shivering A Sign Of Anxiety
Shivering can be caused by a variety of reasons, including physical activity, exposure to cold temperatures, or a reaction to fear and anxiety. It is important to first make sure that any shivering is not a result of physical causes before assuming it’s an indication of anxiety.
The Science Behind Shivering and Anxiety
When we experience intense emotions such as fear, excitement or stress our bodies respond in the same way: our muscles tense up, our heart rate increases and we start to sweat. This is known as the fight-or-flight response – which is your body’s natural reaction when it feels threatened. During this process, your body releases hormones called ‘catecholamines’, which can cause your body to shiver.
Shivering is a physical symptom of anxiety – but it’s important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently.
Some people may experience intense panic attacks with shaking and sweating while others may only feel a sense of unease or discomfort. It’s important to recognize the different ways in which anxiety can manifest itself physically so you can identify if and when you are feeling anxious.
What Does Research Say?
Research has shown that shivering can be a physical symptom of anxiety. A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that individuals with higher levels of stress and anxiety were more likely to experience ‘shoddiness’ – or shaking due to fear and emotional stress. The study also noted that this symptom was particularly common among those who had experienced a traumatic event, such as sexual assault or military combat.
Another study, published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice, explored the relationship between stress and shivering. The researchers found that those with higher levels of perceived stress reported significantly more frequent episodes of shivering than those who had lower levels of perceived stress. Additionally, they found that those with greater degrees of anxiety were more likely to experience shivering than those with lower levels of anxiety.
The research suggests that shivering is a physical symptom of anxiety and stress, which can be triggered by both daily life events as well as traumatic experiences. It’s important to recognize this symptom so you can manage your stress and anxiety levels in an appropriate manner.
Linking Back to Biology
It’s important to note that this connection between anxiety and trembling is actually rooted in biology — it’s our body’s natural reaction when faced with a stressful situation. When faced with a potential threat, our body goes into fight-or-flight mode – which means that we respond by either running away or standing our ground.
This reaction causes the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can make us feel anxious. It also triggers the sympathetic nervous system, which prepares us for action and can cause physical symptoms such as shivering.
Key points to consider:
- Shivering is a physical symptom of anxiety – caused by the body’s fight-or-flight response
- When faced with a potential threat, our body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which can cause us to feel anxious
- This reaction also triggers the sympathetic nervous system, which prepares us for action and can cause physical symptoms such as shivering
- Research has shown that those with higher levels of stress and anxiety are more likely to experience shivering than those who have lower levels of perceived stress or anxiety.
So if you find yourself dealing with occasional bouts of shivering when anxious or stressed out, don’t worry — it’s completely normal!
What Do Anxiety Shivers Feel Like
Anxiety shivers can feel like a multitude of things, depending on the individual and their level of stress. Generally speaking, they are described as an internal shaking or trembling sensation that is often accompanied by muscle tension and difficulty breathing. The intensity of anxiety shivers can range from mild to severe, but they usually have one common characteristic: they make you feel incredibly uncomfortable.
Chills Down The Spine
Many people who experience anxiety shivers also report feeling a chill that runs down their spine. This sensation is often described as an intense tingling or buzzing feeling that can start at the top of your neck and ripple down your entire back.
The chill usually lasts for a few seconds before fading away, leaving you feeling on edge and uneasy. It’s almost like a chill running through your bones.
A Sense of Dread
Many people who experience anxiety shivers also report a feeling of dread or impending doom. This is an intense emotion that can cause your body to go into fight-or-flight mode and can be extremely distressing. You may feel like something bad is about to happen, or that you are in danger even though there is no immediate threat.
Your heart rate may increase and you might even have difficulty breathing. It can be difficult to concentrate on anything else as fear takes over and consumes your thoughts. It’s important to remember that this sensation is only temporary, and if you take deep breaths and focus on calming yourself down, it will eventually pass.
The most common symptom of anxiety shivers is a trembling sensation that begins in the hands and feet but can spread throughout the body. It can be mild or intense and will usually last for several seconds to several minutes.
People often report feeling like their whole body is shaking uncontrollably, even though there is no visible evidence of it. This trembling can often cause muscle tension and difficulty moving around, as the fear takes over your entire body.
Although anxiety shivers can be unsettling, they are usually short-lived and will pass once the stressful event is over. It’s important to remember that there is no need to be alarmed as this is a normal reaction to stress, and it will eventually go away on its own.
If you find yourself dealing with occasional bouts of shivering when anxious or stressed out, take some deep breaths and focus on calming yourself down – it should eventually pass. You can take some comfort in knowing that these symptoms are unlikely to last for very long and will soon subside once the episode passes.
How Long Does Anxiety Shivers Last?
The duration of anxiety shivers will vary from person to person, but generally speaking, they are short-lived and will pass once the stressful event is over. It’s important to note that these symptoms are not likely to last for a long period of time and should not cause any alarm.
Here is an overview of how long anxiety shivers typically last:
- Generally, begin within seconds of feeling anxious or stressed.
- Anxiety shivers peak quickly, lasting anywhere from a few seconds up to several minutes.
- They subside once the stressful event passes.
- Shivers can be mild to intense depending on the individual’s level of perceived stress or anxiety.
- They may be accompanied by feelings of dizziness, chest tightness, and sweating.
- If you experience anxiety shivers for more than half an hour or if you find them particularly uncomfortable, it is best to seek medical advice for further help and support.
However, it’s important to note that everyone’s experience with anxiety shivers is unique and the duration may vary depending on the individual and the specific situation they’re facing. Additionally, some people find that their anxiety shivers come and go over the course of several days or even weeks.
7 Formidable Causes Of Anxiety Shivers
Anxiety shivers can be a frightening and disorienting experience, but it’s important to understand that they are a normal response to stress or anxiety. Knowing the cause of your anxiety shivers can help you manage and cope with them in a more effective way. Here’s a look at what causes them and how they should be managed.
1. The Physiology of Anxiety Shivers
Anxiety shivers are the body’s response to stress or fear. When we experience a sense of alarm – real or imagined – the sympathetic nervous system is activated, releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones trigger physiological changes in order to prepare us for fight-or-flight mode, including an increase in heart rate, rapid breathing, and muscle tension.
For some people, this also results in a feeling of chills or shivering.
2. Brain Chemistry and Anxiety Shivers
Research has shown that anxiety can cause changes in brain chemistry which can affect our physical responses to stressors.
One study found that when someone experiences an intense emotion such as fear or anger, glutamate – one of the most abundant neurotransmitters in the brain – is released in greater amounts than normal. This increase in glutamate can trigger physical reactions such as shaking and trembling.
3. Stress Hormones and Anxiety Shivers
In addition to changes in brain chemistry, anxiety can also cause spikes in certain stress hormones which can lead to physical symptoms such as trembling. Cortisol is one such hormone; it increases during times of stress and helps the body cope by triggering metabolic processes which provide energy for action.
High levels of cortisol have been linked to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in a feeling of trembling or shaking throughout the body.
4. Genetics and Anxiety Shivers
It’s important to note that not everyone experiences anxiety shivers – even if they suffer from anxiety disorders – because genetic factors may play a role as well. A 2015 study found that people with variants on certain genes were more likely to experience physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders than those without these variants.
These findings suggest that genetics could contribute to why some people experience anxiety shivers while others don’t.
6. Mental Health Issues:
In some cases, anxiety shivers may be a symptom of underlying mental health issues such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions can cause persistent feelings of fear and stress that can lead to physical reactions such as trembling.
If you find yourself frequently experiencing anxiety shivers, it is best to speak with a mental health professional for assessment and treatment.
7. Lifestyle Factors:
Stressful life events such as relationship problems, financial difficulties, or job insecurity are common triggers that can contribute to anxiety shivers. A lack of sleep, excessive caffeine consumption, high levels of alcohol intake, and the use of certain drugs may also increase the likelihood of experiencing this symptom. If you find yourself dealing with regular bouts of anxiety shivers, it’s important to examine your lifestyle habits and make adjustments where necessary in order to reduce stress levels.
How Do I Stop Anxiety Shivers: 12 Helpful Tips
The good news is there are a few simple steps you can take to help stop your anxiety shivers. Here are some tips for managing the physical symptoms of anxiety:
- Practice deep breathing exercises: Focusing on your breath and taking slow, deep breaths can help to calm your mind and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help to reduce stress hormones in the body and stimulate endorphin production (the ‘feel good’ hormone).
- Meditate or practice mindful activities: Mindfulness activities such as meditation or yoga can be helpful for calming the mind and reducing anxiety-related physical symptoms.
- Spend time in nature: Being in nature has been shown to have a positive effect on our mental health, helping to reduce feelings of stress and worry.
- Get plenty of restful sleep: A lack of quality sleep can contribute to the physical symptoms associated with anxiety. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and practice good sleep hygiene.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating an unprocessed, nutrient-dense diet can help to reduce anxiety levels and optimize your overall health.
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake: Excessive consumption of stimulants such as caffeine or depressants such as alcohol can exacerbate physical symptoms related to anxiety.
- Talk to someone you trust: Sharing your worries with a friend or family member is a great way to get some emotional support and perspective on what’s causing your anxiety shivers.
- Find ways to relax: Take time out for yourself each day and focus on activities that help you to relax. This could be anything from reading a book or taking a hot bath, to playing an instrument or going for a walk.
- Talk to a therapist: If your anxiety shivers are happening frequently and seem unmanageable, it can be beneficial to speak with a mental health professional about it. A qualified therapist can help you identify the root causes of your anxiety and provide tailored strategies for managing it.
- Take medication if necessary: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to reduce the severity of physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders such as GAD or PTSD.
- Challenge negative thoughts: Negative thinking patterns can increase feelings of fear and stress which then leads to physical symptoms such as anxiety shivers. It’s important to recognize these thoughts and challenge them with more realistic, positive ones.
By taking the steps outlined above, you can help reduce the frequency of anxiety shivers and get back to feeling like yourself again. If your symptoms persist or worsen, it is best to speak with a medical professional for further advice. Please remember that you are not alone – there is an abundance of resources available to support your emotional well-being. With some self-care and dedication, you can take control of your anxiety and reclaim your life.
7 Treatments For Shivering Caused By Anxiety
If you are experiencing anxiety-related shivering, it is important to seek the help of a medical professional. They will be able to provide advice on how best to manage your symptoms and recommend treatment options that are tailored to your individual needs. Common treatments for shivering caused by anxiety include:
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thinking patterns to help reduce anxiety symptoms. During CBT, you will work with a therapist to explore the thoughts and beliefs that are causing your shivering so that you can learn effective coping strategies.
You may also be taught relaxation techniques or mindfulness activities to help reduce physical symptoms such as trembling during moments of high stress or anxiety.
2. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is a type of talk therapy that helps to reduce the intensity of traumatic memories and PTSD. This can help to reduce physical symptoms such as shivering caused by anxiety, as well as the emotional distress associated with them.
During EMDR sessions, you may be asked to recall the traumatic event while focusing on an object or movement (such as side-to-side eye movements). This helps to process the memory in a more manageable way and rewire your brain’s response when it is triggered.
3. Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that involves gradually and safely exposing yourself to the source of your fear or anxiety. This can help you to confront and process your negative associations with it, and eventually, reduce the intensity of these reactions.
During exposure therapy sessions, your therapist may ask you to revisit memories related to the event or discuss them in detail. Over time, this helps to lessen their impact on you and stop physical symptoms such as shivering when they are triggered.
In some cases, medication may be prescribed to reduce the severity of physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders such as GAD or PTSD. These medications work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain and can help to lessen feelings of fear and stress.
Common medications for anxiety include SSRIs, SNRIs and benzodiazepines. These aim to reduce feelings of fear and panic, as well as physical symptoms such as shaking or shivering. Be sure to discuss all possible side effects with your doctor before starting any medication.
However, it is important to note that they do not address the underlying causes of anxiety and should only be used in conjunction with other therapies such as CBT.
5. Talk Therapy
Talk therapy is one of the most effective treatments for shivering caused by anxiety. It involves talking to a qualified therapist about your experiences and feelings, which can help you to gain insight into the root causes of your anxiety. With the guidance of a professional, you can learn how to manage your symptoms and build positive coping strategies for when they arise.
Therapists may also use relaxation techniques or mindfulness activities to reduce physical symptoms such as trembling or shaking. In addition, some therapists may offer hypnotherapy which helps to reprogramme negative thought patterns that are causing anxiety and resulting physical reactions such as shivering.
6. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on exploring unconscious processes and how they can affect our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. This type of therapy helps you to identify the underlying causes of your anxiety, as well as any unresolved issues from your past.
By discussing these problems in a safe environment with a qualified therapist, you have the opportunity to process them and gain insight into why you experience physical symptoms such as shivering when feeling anxious.
7. Herbal Remedies
Herbal remedies may also be used to help reduce anxiety-related physical symptoms such as trembling or shaking. Natural herbs such as chamomile, lavender, and valerian root are known to have calming effects on the body and can be taken in tea or supplement form.
However, it is important to note that these should not be used as a replacement for professional therapy and should always be discussed with your doctor or therapist first.
Shivering is a common physical symptom of anxiety and can also be associated with other mental health conditions such as GAD or PTSD. It is important to discuss your symptoms with a qualified healthcare professional in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment options may include cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, medication, talk therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, or herbal remedies. With the right help and support these methods can help to reduce the severity of physical symptoms related to anxiety and improve overall well-being.
Investigating the Role of Psychogenic Shivers in Mental Health. (2021). Psychology and Mental Health Care, 6(1), 01–07. https://doi.org/10.31579/2637-8892/070
Lundervold, D. A., Ament, P. A., & Holt, P. (2013b). 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