Anxiety is a general feeling of worry, fear, or nervousness. Certain situations can cause anxiety, such as financial worries, the illness or death of a loved one, or work-related stress.
For some people, anxiety can become overwhelming and affect normal daily activities. When this occurs, a person may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a common occurrence, with about 40 million adults in the United States experiencing some form of anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can cause a variety of symptoms, including sweating, a racing pulse, and rapid breathing. In some cases, a person may find themselves shaking due to their anxiety. This shaking is the body’s response to a perceived threat.
Keep reading to find out more information about anxiety-related shaking, including the possible causes and how to manage them.
Anxiety disorders occur when the body’s fight-or-flight response becomes triggered too easily. The fight-or-flight response is a biological reaction to real or perceived danger. The response helps prepare the body either to fight the threat or to run from it.
When it occurs, a person can experience:
- an increased heart rate
- rapid breathing
- muscle shaking
The trigger for such physical reactions in the body tends to vary among individuals.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a person’s anxiety can also trigger other existing conditions, potentially leading to further anxiety. In other words, if a person has an underlying condition, such as essential tremor, anxiety may cause the symptoms to worsen.
Managing anxiety-related tremors and shaking involves treating the underlying anxiety. Once a person can control their anxiety, they should see a reduction or elimination of the shaking.
A person with anxiety may find it helpful to know what triggers cause their symptoms to worsen. If a person can understand their triggers, they may be able to avoid them or, at least, understand how to manage the resulting symptoms more effectively.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some general tips for managing anxiety and promoting wellness include:
- getting adequate sleep
- eating a healthful diet
- reducing stress
Yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques can all help a person reduce stress.
If home remedies are not enough, a person may wish to seek professional help. Often, professional anxiety treatment will consist of psychotherapy and medication.
Some possible therapies for anxiety include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help the person focus on their responses to events, and exposure response prevention, which helps people with specific anxiety disorders develop a constructive response to fear.
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe medications for anxiety. These may include anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines and buspirone (Buspar), and antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as sertraline (Zoloft).
These are prescription-only drugs and they may have adverse effects.
A person should talk to their doctor about what the safest option is for them to take. Often, a doctor will recommend a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes to treat the anxiety.
Anxiety may create a range of emotional and physical responses. The symptoms that a person experiences may vary. Some common symptoms include:
- feeling tense
- racing or pounding heart
- upset stomach
- feeling of dread or apprehension
- feeling jumpy
- restlessness or irritability
- frequent urination
- anticipating the worst
- watching for signs of danger
In some cases, a person may be experiencing anxiety as a side effect of a medication. In these situations, a doctor will likely discuss switching to an alternative medication.
Some other health-related conditions may cause a person to shake. Examples include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- alcohol use disorder
- traumatic brain injury
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
In rare cases, a person may have a condition known as essential tremor. Essential tremor is a rare neurological disease that causes tremors in the body, particularly in the arms and hands.
In some situations, a person experiencing shaking or other symptoms of anxiety may not need to see a doctor. When an acute, short-term situation causes stress, a person will often display these symptoms. However, as the situation resolves, a person’s symptoms should start to clear.
In other cases, anxiety may be long-term or interfere with daily life. A person should see their doctor if this happens. In addition, a person should talk to their doctor if they:
Anxiety shaking is one of several potential symptoms that a person may experience when they have anxiety.
To treat shaking due to anxiety, it is usually necessary to treat the underlying cause of the anxiety.
Treatment for anxiety typically consists of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.