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Anxiety And Shaking

Faiq Shaikh, M.D.
Anxiety And Shaking

Shaking is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety, and one of the clearest ways to tell that you're nervous. There are confident public speakers - men and women used to being in front of an audience - whose hands will shake violently during their presentations because it is a part of anxiety and nervousness that is very hard to control.

It is also a common issue in anxiety disorders. This article will explore the causes and solutions to anxious shaking.

Temporary and Problematic Shaking

Once in a while, you're going to find yourself nervous—you may be on a first date, you may have an important test, or you may be giving a speech or a presentation. It is only natural to feel nervous in these times, and unfortunately, there is little that you can do to control the shaking. 

But there are many people that shake all the time, at random times of day, even when nothing is there to trigger it. There are people who shake at work, at home, and every time they have a panic attack. This may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Why the Body Shakes During Anxiety

Shaking is a result of an activated fight or flight system - an evolutionary tool that's meant to keep you safe in times of danger. During intense anxiety, your body is flooded with a hormone called epinephrine (adrenaline). That hormone activates your nerves and muscles, giving them the energy they need to fight, flee, or react. 

When Your Shaking is a Problem

Without anxiety, you wouldn't have any idea what you should be afraid of, and if you were faced with danger you'd have a much harder time running away or protecting yourself.

That's why during regular events, like taking the SATs, getting in a fight, or asking someone to marry you, you naturally get nervous. You're faced with a situation that is scary, exciting, or dangerous to you, and so it is natural to feel anxious. You need that to make good decisions and stay safe.

The problem is not the anxiety itself, and it's not the shaking. As much as it would be nice not to shake, it is a natural and healthy response. The problem is when you cannot control your anxiety even when you are not facing those kinds of situations. When that occurs, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Effects of Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder occurs when you experience anxiety without any of these types of triggering situations. Those with an anxiety disorder might find themselves shaking without being confronted with a dangerous situation. For example:

Other Factors That Affect Shaking

It's possible you're shaking for other reasons. Diabetes and Parkinson's disease are both linked to shaking and tremors. Dehydration and hypoglycemia are two very common causes of shaking.

How to Stop Shaking

You simply need to wait for it to pass and try to control your anxiety in the process. In the meantime, there are a few simple things you can try:

Some people have trained themselves to shake less. Drinking water and eating healthier may help too. Some people shake worse when their body needs more nutrients or hydration. 

Strategies to Reduce Anxiety

If you find yourself shaking often, you need to get help. There are many avenues that you can choose to control your anxiety.

The best way to find an effective treatment, however, is to base it off of your anxiety symptoms. Your symptoms are what define your anxiety, and ultimately give you the tools you need to stop it.

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