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Can Anxiety Cause Shaking?


Anxiety can manifest itself physically in many different ways, and it does depend on the individual and situation, but one of the most common physical symptoms of nerves or anxiety is shaking. 


It’s a common occurrence even in those that don’t suffer from anxiety can shake when speaking in public or when they’re nervous, so it’s not necessarily a sign that you’re suffering from anxiety. However, if you start shaking often this could be a sign of anxiety. Of course, there are other conditions that have shaking as a symptom, so if you’re concerned it’s always better to speak to your doctor.


This being said, physical responses of anxiety aren’t often present in insolation and are often triggered by a release of the stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline in the caveman part of our brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. This puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze.


Why Does Anxiety Cause Shaking?

So, when our brain releases adrenaline our muscles become tightened and our nerves are hypersensitive, ready for whatever our body might need to do against the perceived threat. This extra boost of hormone can cause our limbs to shake with excess energy.


Normally, once the perceived threat has passed, the nervous energy subsides and we stop shaking. Although, shaking can be a worrying symptom to experience so we get wrapped up worrying about the shaking, so it intensifies and other symptoms such as hyperventilation or increased heart rate occur, until you’re experiencing a full anxiety attack. It’s not pleasant.


How Can I Stop This Symptom?

As shaking stems from excess adrenaline and energy, the best way to stop it continuing is to use that energy, whether that’s jumping up and down, waving your arms around – anything you like.


Another way to calm your nervous system down is to take some deep, grounding breaths. This helps calm the fight, flight or freeze response which prevents our brain from tumbling further down the anxiety rabbit hole. 


Of course, this helps us to stop the symptoms in action, but in order to prevent the symptoms occurring, you need to manage or build strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.