Around 40 million American adults are affected by anxiety disorders, making anxiety one of the most common psychiatric conditions. Anxiety can show itself in a variety of different ways, and some symptoms of anxiety aren’t noticeable to other people.
Anxious shaking, on the other hand, is one of the most noticeable symptoms of anxiety, and this symptom is most commonly exhibited by people with extreme anxiety. Learn why you shake when you’re anxious, and find out whether natural substances might help you stop shaking when an anxiety attack hits.
Why do people shake when they have anxiety?
Anxiety is a type of fear, and your body can’t differentiate between fear caused by an external event and fear caused by your mind. As a result, your body reacts the same way to a perceived threat as it would to an actually dangerous situation by flooding your nervous system with adrenaline and provoking a fight-or-flight response.
Also known as epinephrine, adrenaline is a powerful stimulant that is designed to grant you superhuman strength and response times, allowing you to remove yourself from dangerous situations. Adrenaline sends massively increased blood flow to your skeletal muscles, increasing your physical strength, and this natural, body-generated stimulant also increases your heart rate and blood sugar.
Just like pharmaceutical stimulants, the natural stimulant adrenaline can cause tremors or shaking as muscles overloaded with stimulation start spasming out of control. As is also the case with stimulant drugs like amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, this likelihood to shake when anxious progresses the more frequently your body is flooded with adrenaline.
If you experience severe anxious responses multiple times per day, you’re more likely to develop tremors over the long run. Conversely, uncontrollable nervous shaking is less common in individuals who don’t experience anxious responses very frequently.
Examples of situations that might trigger anxiety shaking
In most cases, nervous shaking doesn’t simply begin for no reason. Instead, people with anxiety usually start shaking when confronted with triggering situations. Just as facing a physical fight or being confronted with an emergency situation might cause you to shake as you face an external threat, you might also start shaking when confronted by situations that you find psychologically threatening. Here are some examples of common anxiety shaking triggers:
- Preparing to speak in front of others
- Holding silverware while eating a meal
- Raising a drink or a straw to your mouth
- Writing a check
- Writing in front of other people
Your likelihood to shake with anxiety can be increased by environmental factors such as cold temperatures or bright lights. If you already feel like you’re under pressure for other reasons, it’s more likely that you’ll start shaking when confronted with common anxiety tremor triggers.
Shaking and social anxiety
People with social anxiety are the most likely to start shaking when confronted with triggering situations. While it’s possible to start shaking when you’re alone and start feeling anxious, this phenomenon is far more common when you’re surrounded by staring eyes.
Social anxiety has a tendency to get worse as you become aware of its symptoms. For instance, you might notice that you’re starting to shake and begin shaking even worse at that realization. Hiding the symptoms of your anxiety or attempting to pretend that you aren’t anxious can make your symptoms worse, but there are plenty of effective methods you can use to combat social anxiety and anxious shaking.
Treatments for anxiety shaking
There are a variety of different ways you can stop yourself from shaking with anxiety. In general, improving your overall mental health over time is the best way to prevent this symptom from occurring.
You can also eliminate behaviors or actions that might be making your shaking worse. Lack of sleep, for instance, can harm your nervous system and worsen tremors, and stimulants like caffeine can exacerbate anxiety tremors or cause tremors on their own. Let’s examine the four major ways you can reduce or eliminate anxious shaking:
Changing the way your life is ordered can improve your anxiety and reduce shaking. Here are some steps you can take:
- Accept that you have anxiety
- Rearrange your lifestyle to remove unnecessary sources of stress
- Try meditation or breathing techniques
- Get outside and exercise regularly
Benzodiazepines and beta blockers are the types of prescription drugs that are most commonly prescribed for anxiety. Both beta blockers and benzodiazepines have considerable side effects with benzodiazepine overdose being a significant cause of concern. Prescription drugs for anxiety should only be used within the strict confines of a doctor’s recommendations, and even then, these psychiatric medications should be used with extreme caution.
Psychotherapy techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have been shown to be considerably effective for anxiety. Unlike prescription drugs, psychotherapy does not have any physiological side effects, but this approach may not provide total relief for individuals with severe cases of anxiety.
Over thousands of years, cultures around the globe have developed natural treatments for anxiety that involve valerian root, ginkgo biloba, or a wide variety of other plant substances. Cannabis sativa has also been used as an anxiety treatment for centuries, but recent research suggests that THC, the default active compound in cannabis, might worsen anxiety at high doses. Other components of Cannabis sativa, however, might have profound anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties.
What does research say about CBD and extreme anxiety?
CBD, an active component of Cannabis sativa that doesn’t have any intoxicating or addictive properties, has been studied in detail for its potential impact on instances of both mild and extreme anxiety. Research into this potential application of CBD has delivered highly promising results so far, and cannabis scientists around the world continue investigating the potential anxiolytic properties of this compound.
Research into CBD for anxiety is largely predicated on the premise that this cannabinoid interacts with the body’s serotonergic systems, which regulate the neurotransmitter serotonin. Studies indicate that serotonin is involved in the progression of anxiety-related symptoms, and some types of anxiety may be caused by abnormally low levels of serotonin in the brain or an imbalance between serotonin and dopamine, another critical neurotransmitter.
Unlike THC, CBD does not stimulate the brain’s CB1 receptors, which disrupt your brain’s dopamine systems by triggering huge releases of this intoxicating neurotransmitter. Instead, CBD shows significant affinity for your nervous system’s 5-HT1A receptors, which are the body’s most abundant serotonin neuroreceptors.
While the exact link between CBD and anxiety has yet to be established, the fact that this cannabinoid interacts with one of the most important components of the body’s serotonin-regulating system should be of great interest to anyone who suffers from anxiety. Since CBD exerts these effects without causing intoxication, this cannabinoid is a much more suitable target for anxiety tremor research than THC.
Inhale CBD the next time you start shaking from anxiety
Different types of CBD products exert widely varying effects. Orally ingested CBD products, for instance, such as tinctures, capsules, and edibles, can take 30-45 minutes to take effect. By that point, the situation that triggered your anxious shaking will most likely have dissipated.Inhaled CBD products, however, such as CBD flower, pre-rolls, and vape cartridges can take effect in as little as 30 seconds to 1 minute. As a result, inhaling CBD allows this cannabinoid to interact with your nervous system while you’re still suffering from an anxiety attack. Keep a CBD vape pen or a hemp pre-roll on hand, and try inhaled CBD the next time you start shaking from anxiety.