There is more to anxiety than nervous thoughts. Anxiety causes significant physical symptoms, some of which are triggered by the activation of your fight or flight system, others or which are triggered by how you respond to your anxiety.
Some anxiety is normal and natural. Anxiousness can help keep you safe from harm. But when your fight or flight system is activated even when you haven't been confronted with a fear inducing situation, that's when you suffer from a serious anxiety problem, and one of the symptoms you may deal with is rapid changes in body temperature.
Is Anxiety Making You Hot/Cold?
Body temperature changes can be hard to nail down. Dozens of different diseases can affect body temperature, as can exercise, your environment, and your own natural ability to adjust to heat changes. If you're concerned, talk to a doctor.
But anxiety has a severe effect on body temperature, especially during anxiety attacks. Take our free 7 minute anxiety test to score your anxiety severity and learn more about these symptoms.
Rapid Hot and Cold and Anxiety
Anxiety is linked to body temperature changes in multiple ways, and in some cases it's possible for a natural body temperature change to create significant anxiety. The only way to make sure that you're accurately reacting to your body temperature is to take my free 7 minute anxiety test.
These hot and cold symptoms can be frustrating, and when they occur when you're trying to go to sleep or otherwise be comfortable, they can be very disruptive. There are many issues that cause anxiety to lead to hot and cold symptoms. They include:
- Vasoconstriction The most common reason that anxiety leads to body temperature changes occurs with your body's fight or flight response - the response that is designed to keep you safe from harm. Those with anxiety have a misfiring fight/flight response, and one the consequences is vasoconstriction, where your blood vessels tense up. This causes the body to heat up very quickly.
- Sweating Sweating is also very common in those with anxiety. Sweating is one of the main reasons that people have cold shivers after their hot flashes and may struggle to warm up again. It's the body's response to vasoconstriction - your body knows it's about to heat up, so it sweats to help you cool down.
- Over-sensitivity Those that have anxiety may also be oversensitive to heat that is normally there. You may find that when you're already feeling uncomfortable and agitated, extra heat or cold in your home may contribute to further agitation, and make you more likely to notice any temperature changes.
Other issues can lead to changes in how anxiety affects your body temperature as well. Anxiety can create goosebumps, which may cool the body. Hyperventilation can also lead to body cooling. Anxiousness may also cause you to move too much, which may heat up your body. There are several issues that can lead to body temperature changes from anxiety.
Preventing Anxiety Body Temperature Alterations
There are only some aspects of body temperature you can control. Rapid cold chills, for example, are a specific part of your fight or flight response. They can't be directly controlled, but generally they don't need to be since they tend to fade fairly quickly after the anxiety has faded.
But when you find that you're getting too hot or cold, and it's lasting for a long period of time, there are several things you can do:
- Don't Go Online The first thing you need to do is really something you need to avoid doing, and that's trying to research your symptoms online. Body temperature is linked to a number of terrible diseases, like Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes. But the likelihood you have these is slim, and researching them will only fuel your anxiety. If you're worried, talk to your doctor. If you know you have anxiety, then it's generally safe to say that it's caused by anxiety.
- Adjust Your Clothing Even when your body heat is caused by anxiety, it can be affected by what you're wearing and the temperature in the room. If you're hot, shed some clothing or turn up the heat. If you're cold, add some layers. Your body will adjust to these temperatures, despite the way anxiety is making you feel.
- Get Up and Walk Around Body temperature is often most disruptive when you sleep. This is commonly referred to as "night sweats." Rather than wait it out, it's not a bad idea to get up and walk around a bit. Let your body movement cool you down. Those that try to fight night sweats may find themselves too uncomfortable to go back to sleep and fuel their stress further.
- Get a Distraction Finally, one of the issues that may be contributing to your body temperature are your own thoughts. Often worries over how you feel and the ideas that are on your mind are what causes you to continue to experience poor body temperature. Fight those thoughts by distracting them. Watch TV, go for a walk, call a friend - anything to get your mind off of whatever it's focused on.
You may even want to drink water as well, which can help control your body temperature from the inside instead of just focusing on the outside. Some people find that showers may also help.
The Only Way to Cure Body Temperature Changes
Still, the most important thing to realize is that when anxiety is causing these changes to your body temperature, the only thing that is likely to stop them completely is something that addresses your anxiety. That's why I highly recommend you seek out an anxiety treatment that focuses on your symptoms and addresses your individual needs.
I have an anxiety test that is perfect for this. The test is specifically crafted to analyze your exact symptoms for free while providing you with recommendations for next steps.
Marazziti, Donatella, Angela Di Muro, and Paolo Castrogiovanni. Psychological stress and body temperature changes in humans. Physiology & behavior 52.2 (1992): 393-395.
Petruzzello, Steven J., Daniel M. Landers, and Walter Salazar. Exercise and anxiety reduction: Examination of temperature as an explanation for affective change. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology (1993).
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.