Physical Symptoms

Can Muscle Twitching Be Caused By Anxiety?

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10th, 2020

Can Muscle Twitching Be Caused By Anxiety?

There's no denying that anxiety affects your body. It often seems like anxiety has the ability to move your body involuntarily. Whether it's something as small as a finger or as large as your entire leg, some type of twitching or shaking is incredibly common.

Muscle twitching can be a strange sensation. In some cases your muscle may even move involuntarily. For those suffering from serious anxiety, it's also one of the symptoms that can cause a lot of concern, especially in those with health anxiety, since muscle twitches are associated with some frightening disorders.

Muscle Twitching and Anxiety

Muscle twitching can be a sign of anxiety and can cause a great deal of distress. Some people worry that their twitching may not just be anxiety, or that if it is just anxiety that they won’t ever be able to control it. While muscle twitching is a common sign of anxiety, it's rarely the only symptom.

What Causes Muscle Twitching?

Why your muscles twitch is not entirely known but the two key factors seem to be stress and adrenaline.

  • Stress Stress puts a great deal of tension on your muscles and your nerves. Under that level of tension, your muscles experience a rush of hormones and unusual blood flow. Sometimes referred to as "benign fasciculation syndrome," the muscles are simply reacting to changes in nerve energy, pressure, and body disrupted body signals.
  • Adrenaline Similarly, adrenaline rushes give muscles extra energy which may cause some people to feel as though they need to move. In some people, this may be displayed through twitching.

It's also possible that the muscle twitching is caused by secondary effects. For example, magnesium is often depleted in times of stress, and low magnesium levels are known to lead to muscle twitching.

Can the Muscle Twitching Be Dangerous?

The fact that muscle twitching is often associated with nerve and brain disorders, many people worry about what twitching muscles means in the overall picture. Twitching muscles may be incredibly annoying and for some people embarrassing, but when caused by anxiety twitching is not dangerous. It's simply yet another sign that your body is reacting to stress.

Muscle Twitching Without Anxious Thoughts

It should also be noted that muscle twitching doesn't need stressful thoughts, feelings, or events to occur. Many people find that their muscles twitch even during periods periods when the person is not experiencing any other noticeable anxiety symptoms.

For better or worse, it is genuinely possible to experience many anxiety signs and symptoms - like muscle twitching - even when you don't feel anxious in the moment. Long term stress affects the way your body works, and in many cases you'll find that your anxiety still manifests even when you don't feel anxious.

How to Stop the Muscle Twitching

Muscle twitching is not easy to stop on its own. Exercise can deplete some of the energy in your muscles which may reduce twitching; however, for some people intense exercise itself can cause muscle twitching.

Whether or not you notice reduction of twitching as a result, exercising is an incredibly valuable way to reduce stress in general, so if you're willing to engage in some daily exercise such as running, it can be highly advantageous.

In general, you need to take a proactive approach to controlling your anxiety. Some basic tips include:

  • Full Nutritional Profile Make sure you're getting all of your nutrients. Vitamins and minerals help the body respond better to stress hormone and may reduce vitamin depletions during times of extended stress.You may ask your doctor to perform a blood draw for laboratory testing of your levels.
  • Caffeine Avoidance Caffeine is not necessarily as harmful to your anxiety as many people believe, but if you experiencing muscle twitching you may want to consider that caffeine does appear to increase muscle twitching. Even if it does not raise your overall level of anxiety, it may increase your muscle twitching.
  • Stress Avoidance The more you can avoid anxiety producing stimuli, the less twitching you'll experience. You may not be able to quit a stressful career or immediately get over a stressful situation, but you can avoid other issues that may contribute to increased anxiety, like going out to dangerous neighborhoods, engaging in stressful activities like gambling, watching thrillers on television, and so on.

These will help you get started towards controlling your anxiety, and give you a better opportunity to start taking your next steps towards anxiety control.

Thinking About Twitching Causes Twitching

Managing your anxiety is extremely important as the mind can cause you to create the body reactions that you fear.

In other words, if you're worried about your muscle twitching, your muscles may be more likely to twitch. It's just another reason that regaining control of your thoughts and worries is such an important tool for dealing with anxiety.

Anxiety reduction is not something that will occur overnight but there are several proven techniques for learning to manage your anxiety so that it no longer has to be a part of your everyday life.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

Ask Doctor a Question

Question:

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient

Answer:

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

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