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How to Control Muscle Weakness Associated with Anxiety

Daniel Sher, MA, Clin Psychology
How to Control Muscle Weakness Associated with Anxiety

Muscle weakness is a potentially frightening anxiety symptom. The experience can be really distressing, leading to severe tension and worry, which only serve to make the anxiety worse. Ultimately, feeling that you don’t have the physical strength to live a normal life can really make things difficult. In this article, we explore the link between anxiety and feelings of muscular weakness, suggesting several coping techniques that you can use. Read on to learn more.

Anxiety Causes Muscle Weakness

Anxiety problems are known to cause feelings of muscle weakness. However, you should visit a doctor if you're experiencing this, in order to make sure that there isn’t another medical or physical explanation. Most often, however, the muscle weakness that you feel is likely to be linked to your anxiety. While it can be distressing and irritating, these feelings of muscular fatigue, tingling or numbness are not harmful in and of themselves. 

However, is this really a case of your muscles being temporarily weakened, or is this just your anxiety playing tricks on your mind? Muscle weakness is generally subjective. While some people do have problems standing or sitting, few are "testing" the muscle to see if the muscle is actually weaker. There are several different issues that lead to this perceived feeling of weakness. They include:

These are some of the potential causes of muscle weakness linked to anxiety. There may be other links as well - anxiety can affect many different aspects of your body. Some people may feel more lightheaded, as though they're going to faint and this can cause a feeling of muscle weakness as well. Others may not eat or drink enough as a result of their anxiety, causing actual muscle weakness and fatigue. 

The Best Ways to Control Anxiety Related Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness is a tricky issue. On the one hand, when it's caused by anxiety it's not dangerous; and in some cases, it’s just a matter of perception and your muscles are not really weakened. On the other hand, living with muscle weakness can be stressful, often increasing the level of anxiety that you feel.

There are several strategies you can use to decrease the feeling of having weak muscles. These include:

These strategies aren't going to reduce your muscle weakness every time. Sometimes, for example, you’re genuinely tired and your there’s a good reason for why your body is feeling that way. Sometimes the anxiety that you feel may seem so overwhelming that you believe these exercises won’t have much of an impact. 

At times, there is no quick fix available. Nonetheless, the techniques that we have discussed today can prove helpful in managing sensations of muscle weakness and reducing your overall anxiety levels. If you want to take things one step further, think more broadly about your anxiety and ways that you can address this. For example:

You can read more about these types of treatments on our anxiety treatment page. By tackling the underlying problem - i.e. the anxiety - at its root, you stand the best chance of overcoming your muscle weakness.

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