Physical Symptoms
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How Anxiety May Cause Muscle Cramps

Victoria LeBlanc, MS, LCPC
How Anxiety May Cause Muscle Cramps

Anxiety can cause a host of unfortunate aches and pains that make it even more challenging to manage your anxiety. It's hard enough to handle all of the stressful thoughts you have shooting around in your mind. It gets much harder when you also have to try to live through physical ailments that arise from your anxiety.

This is the case with muscle cramps - a common anxiety symptom that makes it much harder to go about your day to day life. This article will explore muscle cramps related to anxiety as well as how to overcome them.

Causes of Muscle Cramps From Anxiety

While most people have experienced muscle issues as a result of anxiety, cramping itself is not traditionally thought of as an anxiety symptom. Nevertheless, it is actually fairly common. While any severe muscle cramps should be seen by a doctor, those with anxiety do tend to develop muscle spasms and cramping in a way that those without anxiety rarely experience. If you experience more cramping when you have anxiety, there's a good chance that the two are related.

What causes the muscle cramps are a bit less obvious. The following are the most common and likely causes of this type of cramping:

The causes of muscle cramping from anxiety are actually not that different from the causes of muscle cramping in those without anxiety. The problem is that when you have anxiety you may find yourself more likely to experience the issues that lead to cramping.

The Other Cause of Anxiety Muscle Cramps

There is also one other thing to realize about muscle cramps and anxiety: sometimes, the cramps have nothing to do with your anxiety, but anxiety makes you focus on and care about the cramps more. Anxiety causes heightened sensitivity which results in you paying more attention to your body. This may cause you to not only "feel" your cramps more than you would without anxiety, but also remember them more than you may have otherwise.

Some people have cramps almost every day and it means nothing, and they forget about the cramps soon after. But those with anxiety may not be able to do that. They may remember each and every time they got a cramp and how often they're occurring. It is important to keep in mind that anxiety may not be causing muscle cramps at all, but anxiety is what makes them more noticeable and memorable.

How to Stop Muscle Cramps

No matter what causes the cramping (anxiety or otherwise) the remedy for muscle cramps is the same. Drink plenty of water to ensure that your body is not dehydrated; 11-15 cups is the recommended average. Try to move more often so that you are able to warm up your muscles and prevent them from tensing or getting rigid. Exercise more so that your muscles are in better shape (although exercise can lead to some cramping). And, improve your diet to ensure that your cramping isn't caused by a need for any vitamins or minerals.

Having anxiety that contributes to muscle cramping can only be truly managed by seeking treatment for your anxiety. While taking the steps mentioned above is a great start, they will not address the underlying problem which is your anxiety.

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