Can Therapy Help With Anxiety Twitching?

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 19% of adults (40 million people) in the United States experience anxiety each year. Anxiety can bring about a range of physical symptoms, including sweating palms, a shaky voice, lightheadedness, nausea, and twitching. Twitching caused by stress and anxiety is fairly common and often reduces as the anxiety is treated.

What is anxiety twitching?

Muscle spasming caused by anxiety is a common symptom of general anxiety disorder (GAD). Muscle twitches are the result of a group of muscles that move on their own. They can consist of small muscle spasms or jerking motions that cannot be stopped by the person experiencing them. People experience muscle twitching across a range of conditions, from neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, to anxiety disorders.

Anxiety-induced muscle spasming can affect any muscle in the body for an undetermined length of time. Some muscle spasms caused by anxiety can last a few seconds, while others can last for much longer. Twitching caused by anxiety is also fairly common. When muscles spasm intensely, they can cause nerves in the same area to be overstimulated, which can result in a tingling sensation. Not all muscle spasming involves large muscles. Small muscles around the eyes can also be related to anxiety twitching.

Anxiety symptoms can be hard to experience

Muscle spasming, which can be a symptom of anxiety, does not necessarily happen just during the day. You can experience muscle twitches when you are trying to go to sleep at night. This can result from anxious thoughts weighing on your mind, potentially affecting your mental health. Anxiety twitching typically stops once you fall asleep since your mind is finally resting. However, if your anxiety gets worse, the muscle twitches can get worse, and it can be troublesome to get to sleep. This may be especially true if you dwell on something that has been bothering you and you feel more and more anxious.

Muscle groups that may be affected include the head, shoulders, eyes, stomach, esophagus, neck, back, face, groin, legs, arms, feet, hands, etc. Any group of muscles can be affected by anxiety twitching.

What causes anxiety twitching?

Our brain is responsible for all of the body’s movements and responses. It tells our lungs to breathe and our heart to beat. Our brain also tells our legs to move and our stomach to digest food. How this happens is through the nervous system.

When you have anxiety, it causes your nervous system to release neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are chemicals that the body uses to send messages between neurons and the muscles. Even if there is no reason for the brain to be sending signals through the neurons to your muscles and telling them to twitch, anxiety can trigger this chemical reaction. The result is muscle spasming.

One cause of anxiety twitching is stress. Stress can cause an overstimulation of the nerves in your body. The stimulation can cause impulses that cause your nerves to go out of control. This can lead to nerve stimulation and affect muscle groups. To reduce your body twitches, you might start by reducing stressors in your life.

When to see a doctor

When you have an anxiety attack, your body responds in atypical ways. Extreme anxiety muscle twitches sometimes require medical intervention to get them to stop.

If you find that muscle twitching regularly interferes with your life, start by talking to your primary care provider, who will likely ask you a series of questions and diagnose your condition. Some of the topics they will likely need information about include:

  • A thorough list of symptoms
  • When the symptoms started
  • A description of your twitching
  • How long the symptoms have been happening
  • How the twitching is impacting your life

Your doctor may do testing to rule out other conditions. These tests may include:

  • Bloodwork. Your doctor may order blood tests to check thyroid levels, stress hormones, electrolytes, inflammation markers, etc. They may also want to check your magnesium and potassium levels. If these mineral levels drop too low, they can cause muscle spasms.
  • Electromyogram (EMG). An EMG can help your doctor see how your muscles respond to nerve stimulation and ensure that they are working correctly.
  • MRI and/or CT scan. Your doctor may order an MRI or CT scan to assess your brain and spinal cord.

What anxiety-related treatments are available?

After your doctor goes over the test results, they may give you a diagnosis, potentially of one of the anxiety disorders. If they determine that your involuntary muscle twitching is caused by anxiety, they may recommend seeing a counselor or psychologist. They may also prescribe medication to reduce anxiety symptoms or to help manage related health conditions.

A therapist will likely evaluate where your symptoms of anxiety and twitching stem from and then determine a proper therapeutic method to reduce or stop your anxiety twitching. Anxiety treatment can be done through in-person or online counseling.

What will a therapist do to help my anxiety?

One of the most commonly used psychotherapy methods for anxiety is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). This treatment tends to focus on changing or altering negative thought patterns and subsequent reactions. Other types of behavioral therapy can also be effective. A counselor will likely want to see you weekly to help you work through your anxiety and reduce the anxiety-induced symptoms you are having.

Several anxiety disorders can cause twitching. These include:

Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is diagnosed when you have anxiety symptoms for at least six months. School, work, and social interactions with friends or strangers can all trigger GAD.

Panic disorder

Panic disorder causes panic attacks in people at expected or unexpected times. Attacks are often brought on by fear or stress. Panic attacks often result in hyperventilation, twitching, or palpitations. 

Phobia-related disorders

A phobia is an intense fear of objects, insects, situations, or actions. While it is reasonable to have fears, phobias can cause the affected person to be paralyzed with fear and anxiety. Each phobia has a separate medical name. For example:

  • Fear of tight spaces: claustrophobia
  • Fear of people or being outside: agoraphobia
  • Fear of spiders: arachnophobia
  • Fear of heights: batophobia
  • Fear of dentists: dentophobia
  • Fear of birds: ornithophobia
  • Fear of water: potamophobia

Separation anxiety disorder

Separation anxiety is a fear of being left alone. This disorder is most commonly found in children who are afraid of being left by their parents.

Adults who experience separation anxiety often develop attachments to specific people and fear being abandoned by a partner, spouse, or someone they have strong affection for.

Those with this type of disorder may have nightmares about being separated from those they have grown attachments to.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Anxiety symptoms can be hard to experience

What can I do at home to reduce or prevent anxiety twitching?

One of the best ways to stop anxiety twitching is to prevent anxiety from happening in the first place. This may mean avoiding places, people, or situations that cause stress. This is not always practical, but there are other strategies you can use to prevent twitching:

  • Eat a healthy diet. You might reduce your intake of salt, micronutrients, and carbs.
  • Get enough sleep: You need at least seven to eight hours of steady sleep for your brain to function correctly, and a lack of sleep could substantially increase the severity of anxiety symptoms.
  • Reduce or eliminate the number of energy drinks and the amount of caffeine you consume: Coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks can make you twitch or heighten your anxiety. Your body does not need caffeine or added sugars to function properly, and they can cause adverse effects.
  • Drink plenty of water: When your body is dehydrated, it can cause anxiety.
  • Reduce stressors: If work is causing you anxiety, maybe it is not the right job for you. If you are having relationship difficulties, you can talk to a therapist alone or within a couples counseling setting.
  • Avoid taking drugs or drinking alcohol: Drugs can alter your brain chemistry and cause anxiety. Alcohol can also change your brain chemistry in addition to causing dehydration.
  • Utilize relaxing muscle techniques: Yoga, Pilates, and meditation all work for muscle relaxation. If you do not want to join a group class, you can practice muscle relaxation techniques at home. Lie on the ground, tighten a group of muscles at your feet for 10 to 20 seconds, and then relax the muscles. Continue working your way up the body, tightening small groups of muscles one at a time, and then loosening them. Once you get to your head, you should feel more relaxed than you did when you started.
  • Stop acknowledging the twitching: Sometimes, when you notice you are twitching, you become hyper-aware of the problem. This can compound the symptoms and make you twitch harder or longer than you would otherwise. By trying to ignore the twitching, you might see a reduction in the symptom cycle.

Anxiety twitching does not have to be something that you live with forever. There are treatments available for those who experience twitching that stems from fear or anxiety. You might see a doctor to rule out more severe causes for your twitching rather than anxiety.

If you’re interested in talking to a therapist about anxiety, you might consider online therapy, which has been shown to be just as effective as in-person therapy. With online therapy at Regain, you don’t have to leave home to receive therapy, which may be helpful if you’re experiencing anxiety and twitching. You can talk to a licensed therapist via phone or videoconferencing at a time that suits your schedule. You can also contact your therapist via in-app messaging, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can. 


If you’re experiencing anxiety twitching, you don’t have to face it alone. With Regain, you can be matched with a therapist with experience helping people with twitching. By talking to a therapist, you may find that you gain the tools to reduce your anxiety, which may eliminate or reduce any twitching you’re experiencing. Take the first step to reduce anxiety and reach out to Regain today.

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