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.
Is Anxiety Making You Twitch?
Muscle twitching and spasms can be any number of medical issues, but it can also be anxiety. To find out more about you and your experience with anxiety, take our free 7 minute anxiety test and receive your anxiety score.
Muscle Twitching and Anxiety
Muscle twitching is absolutely a sign of anxiety, and one that can cause a great deal of distress. Usually the fear with muscle twitching is that it might mean something more. People worry that their twitching may not just be anxiety, and if it is, they worry that they can't control it.
Muscle twitching is genuinely a common sign of anxiety, although it's rarely the only symptom. If you haven't done so yet, I have a 7 minute anxiety test on this website that can be helpful for determining your own anxiety experience, and even compares you to other anxiety sufferers.
What Causes Muscle Twitching?
Why your muscles twitch is not entirely known, at least in terms of why some people experience muscle twitching and not others. But the two key factors here are 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 throw the muscles extra energy, and these can also cause your muscles to feel "off," as though they need to move. In some people, this may be displayed through moving.
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?
Because muscle twitching is often associated with nerve and brain disorders, many people worry about what twitching muscles means. Twitching muscles may be incredibly annoying, but when it's caused by anxiety it's not dangerous. It's simply yet another sign that your body is reacting to stresses.
Muscle Twitching Without Anxious Thoughts
It should also be noted that muscle twitching doesn't need stressful thoughts to occur. Many people find that their muscles twitch even during periods of calm - periods when the person is not experiencing any 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. Long term stress does affect 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, but an usual quirk of intense exercise is that exercise itself can make your muscles twitch as well, because of the way your muscle reacts to intense physical exertion.
Still, exercising is an incredibly valuable way to reduce stress in general, so if you're willing to overlook the fatigue related twitching, some daily exercise and running can be highly advantageous.
In general, however, 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.
- Caffeine Avoidance Caffeine gets a bad reputation in the anxiety world. Coffee is not necessarily as harmful to your anxiety as many people believe, although it may increase the likelihood of a panic attack. But caffeine does appear to increase muscle twitching, so those that are trying to deal with twitching muscles directly may want to avoid caffeine.
- Stress Avoidance Obviously 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
Controlling your anxiety is extremely important, because 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 controlling anxiety.
Anxiety reduction is not something that will occur overnight. But there are several proven techniques for essentially eliminating anxiety from your life altogether.
I've helped countless people overcome their anxiety. To start, I have them all take the 7 minute anxiety test. It's a free test I developed to provide you with:
- A visual snapshot of your anxiety and its symptoms.
- A comparison of your anxiety symptoms to the rest of the population.
- Advice on what next steps to take to reduce your anxiety.
Until you fully recognize and understand your anxiety and how it affects you, there is little you can do to treat it. It's crucial that you fully commit to the right anxiety plan, and that means getting a better understanding of your own anxiety reduction needs.
If you haven't yet, take the test now.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.