Can Therapy Help Anxiety Twitching?
Updated March 22, 2021
Constantly worrying about what will happen or how things will transpire can cause immense anxiety. In time, mental stress can cause a physical reaction. Anxiety can bring about a range of symptoms, including sweating palms, a shaky voice, feeling lightheaded, and anxiety nausea. While there are numerous techniques to combat anxiety, some anxiety symptoms can be so severe that medication and therapy may be required. Persistent twitching or muscle spasming can also be caused by anxiety.
What Is Anxiety Twitching?
Muscle spasming caused by anxiety is one of GAD's more pronounced physical symptoms, bipolar disorder, or any other mental or mood disorder that can have physical manifestations.
Muscle twitches are the result of a group of muscles that move on their own. They can cause small muscle spasming or, more significant, jerking motions that cannot be stopped by the person experiencing it. Persistent twitching is found in people with a range of disorders, from neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease, to anxious thoughts resulting in involuntary muscle spasms.
Anxiety-induced muscle spasming can affect any muscle in the body for an undetermined length of time. Some muscle spasms can last a few seconds, while others can last for much longer. Twitching and tingling, at the same time, are also not uncommon. When muscles spasm intensely, it can cause nerves in the same area to be overstimulated and result in a tingling sensation. Not all muscle spasming involves large muscles. Small muscles around the eyes can also be related to anxiety twitching.
Muscle spasming, which is an anxiety symptom, does not necessarily happen just during the day. Often, when you are trying to go to sleep at night, you can experience muscle twitches; this results from anxious thoughts weighing on your mind. Anxiety twitching does typically stop 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 is 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 head, shoulders, eyes, stomach, esophagus, neck, back, face, groin, legs, arms, feet, hand, etc. As noted, 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 exhales 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 human 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, the anxiety you have triggered this chemical reaction. The result is muscle spasming.
The same reason is valid for why you may hyperventilate when you are anxious. While it is unknown why your brain signals a chemical response, there is no doubt that the symptoms are real. The reaction that results in muscle twitches is a positive correlation affected by anxiety.
A more direct causation 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 twitch, you should reduce stressors in your life.
When To See A Doctor?
When you have a mental health anxiety attack, your body response in atypical ways. Getting extreme anxiety muscle twitch symptoms sometimes requires medical intervention to get them to stop.
If you find that muscle twitching regularly interferes with your life, you should talk to your doctor. They will ask you questions and diagnose your condition. Some of the topics they will need information about includes:
- 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 should do testing to rule out other conditions. These tests may include:
- Bloodwork: tests for thyroid levels, electrolytes, inflammation markers, etc. They will also want to check your magnesium and potassium levels. If these minerals drop too low, it can cause muscle spasms.
- An electromyogram (EMG) to see how your muscles respond to nerve stimulation and ensure that they are working correctly
- An MRI and/or CT scan of your brain and spinal cord
What Mental Health Anxiety Related Treatments Are Available?
After your doctor goes over the tests he ordered, he will give you a diagnosis. If he determines that your twitching is caused by anxiety, he may recommend seeing a counselor or psychologist. He may also prescribe medication to reduce anxiety symptoms.
A therapist can evaluate where your anxiety and twitching stems from and then determine a proper therapeutic method to reduce or stop your anxiety twitching. Mental health anxiety treatment can be done through in-person or online counseling.
What Will A Therapist Do To Help My Anxiety?
In the United States, 19% of adults and 31% of adolescents are diagnosed with anxiety each year. Women tend to experience anxiety more than men, with a 61% higher rate of diagnoses. This number may be skewed because women seek out medical guidance for anxiety more than men.
The most often used psychotherapy method for anxiety is cognitive behavior therapy. This treatment focuses on changing or altering negative thought patterns and subsequent reactions. A counselor will want to see you weekly to help your work through your anxiety and reduce the anxiety-induced symptoms you are having.
Several anxiety disorders can cause anxiety 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 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. The disorder has a direct correlation to having a lack of control.
A phobia is an intense fear of objects, insects, situations, or actions. While it is reasonable to have concerns, phobias cause the affected person to be paralyzed with fear and anxiety. Phobias are considered a disabling disorder, and each has a separate medical name.
- 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 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 left or separated from those they have grown attachments to.
What Can I Do At Home To Reduce Or Prevent Anxiety Twitching?
The best way to stop anxiety twitching is to prevent anxiety from happening in the first place. This may mean not going to places, talking to people, or avoiding situations that cause stress. Since this is not always practical, staying in your house and avoiding people is not a good tactic, there are other ways to reduce anxiety and anxiety twitching.
Ensure you are eating a healthy diet: reduce salt, micronutrients, and carbs.
Get enough sleep: you need at least seven to eight hours of steady sleep for your brain to function correctly.
Reduce or eliminate the number of energy drinks and caffeine you consume: Coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks can make you twitch or heighten your anxiety. Your body does not need caffeine or the added sugars to function properly and 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 that is not the right job for you. If you are having relationship difficulties, 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 but can also cause dehydration.
Utilize relaxing muscle techniques: yoga, Pilates, and mediation all work for muscle relaxation. If you do not want to join a group class, you can practice muscle relaxation techniques at home. Lay 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 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 symptom and make you twitch harder or longer than you would otherwise. By trying to ignore the twitching, it can reduce 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. It is always best to see a doctor rule out more severe causation for your twitching disorder rather than anxiety.
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