Shaking is possible the most common symptom 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.
Shaking is one of the most obvious signs that others have anxiety, and one of the symptoms that causes the most discomfort. This article will explore the causes and solutions to anxious shaking.
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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. You may be public speaking. These are all natural times to feel nervous, and unfortunately there is little way to control the shaking. In this case, you have healthy anxiety.
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 that shake at work, at home, and every time they have a panic attack. This may be an anxiety disorder.
Find out more with my free 7 minute anxiety test.
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 adrenaline/epinephrine. Adrenaline is pure energy, and your body shakes as a result.
When Your Shaking is a Problem
Anxiety is healthy, as much as the word itself has been demonized. 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 little events, like the SATs, getting in a fight, or asking someone to marry you, you get nervous. You're faced with a situation that is scary, exciting, or dangerous to you, and so your anxiety reacts as a result. You need that anxiety 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 (like a first date), shaking is a natural and healthy response. The problem is when you cannot control your anxiety even when you are not faced with those types 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 prompts. Those with an anxiety disorder might find themselves shaking without being confronted with any dangerous situation. For example:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder Shaking may occur all the time or because of nervous thoughts.
- Panic Disorder Shaking may occur before, during, and after a panic attack.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Shaking may occur at loud noises.
When your body starts to experience shakes or tremors without any prompting, it may be one of the signs that you're suffering from more serious anxiety.
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 is actually a common cause of shaking - if you don't get enough water, your body may start to shake. Being cold is also a cause of shaking.
But many times you'll find that what you're really suffering from is anxiety. It's one of the reasons I recommend my anxiety test, to see if your symptoms match up with those other people experience when they suffer from an anxiety disorder.
How to Stop Shaking
Shaking occurs as a result of adrenaline. That makes it hard to stop shaking once you've already started. You can't stop adrenaline. You simply need to wait for it to get used up and control your anxiety in the process. There are a few simple things you can try:
- Jog Running may use up adrenaline faster, and help you stop shaking.
- Deep Breaths Breathing slow can be helpful for shaking as well.
- Yell While you can't do it in public, some people find yelling loudly to be somewhat therapeutic.
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. But in general, the only way to stop shaking is to stop the anxiety that causes it.
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.
- Lifestyle Overhaul Eating healthier, exercising, spending time with more positive people, and finding more time to yourself to relax are very important for controlling anxiety. Even if you decide to go with other treatments, a complete lifestyle change can make dealing with anxiety easier.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) CBT is the most effective therapy currently available for controlling anxiety symptoms. It deals specifically with how to recover from some of the faulty thought processes that lead to anxiety, and is a great tool for controlling daily.
- Medications Ideally you should avoid medications, since they don't treat anxiety directly. But they are useful for short term control if therapy and lifestyle changes aren't enough. There are also natural medicines like kava that may be beneficial.
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.
I've helped thousands of people with anxiety shaking and tremors by having them all take my free anxiety test. The 7 minute test will give you insight into your anxiety and provide you with information on how to treat it best.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.