Anxiety Twitching: Causes and Effective Strategies for Management

Twitching is when a muscle moves without you trying to move it. Anxiety twitching can be really annoying for the person experiencing it. It might also be worrying if there’s no understood cause. Read on to learn more about anxiety twitching, what the causes might be, and how to manage or treat anxiety twitching.

Key takeaways:
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    Anxiety twitching is a potential symptom of an anxiety disorder.
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    Preventive measures include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, drinking water, getting enough sleep, trying relaxation techniques, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
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    Anxiety muscle twitching may occur in one or even more areas of your body, including around the eyelids and lips.
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    The twitching might appear for a few brief moments or even reoccur for hours at a time.
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    If either anxiety or the twitching interferes with your everyday life, talk to a doctor about treatment options.

What is anxiety twitching?

Anxiety twitching is a symptom of anxiety. Twitching is a condition characterized by involuntary muscle contractions. It’s also commonly known as fasciculation or benign fasciculation syndrome (BFS). Anxiety muscle twitching may occur in one or more parts of the body, but it is most common in the eyelids, lips, hands, and feet. The sensation might last minutes or even reoccur for hours at a time.

Anxiety twitching is a common symptom, but it is generally not the only symptom a person with anxiety will have.
Other common symptoms include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Sense of impending doom

Treating your anxiety can help you manage your symptoms, including twitching.

How is anxiety twitching diagnosed?

If you are experiencing twitching, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination and ask you questions about your medical history and symptoms. They may also order tests such as blood tests, nerve conduction tests, and electromyography (EMG) to rule out other possible causes for the twitching like neurological disorders.

If you're dealing with anxiety and your doctor rules out any underlying medical causes for your twitching, they might diagnose you with anxiety-related twitching. This could be especially true if the twitching is accompanied by other anxiety symptoms.

Causes of anxiety twitching

You’re able to move because your body releases neurotransmitters — chemicals that send messages between neurons. Anxiety can cause the brain to release more neurotransmitters than necessary, even when there’s no reason for them to be released. This can cause your muscles to twitch involuntarily.

Anxiety can also trigger muscle twitching through the process of hyperventilation, which is characterized by rapid, shallow breathing often experienced during an anxiety attack. Muscle twitching is typically a symptom of hyperventilation. Moreover, anxiety-related twitching tends to intensify as your anxiety levels increase.

What are the ways to manage anxiety twitching?

If your anxiety is causing muscle twitching, there are a few effective ways to help you manage it. Some of them include:

Medication

Medication can be very helpful for managing anxiety symptoms. There are prescription medications available to help you treat both immediate and long-term symptoms of anxiety. However, always consult your doctor first. They'll consider the type of anxiety you have and how serious it is and help find the right option for you.

Note
Ensure you don't start, stop, or even change your medication without talking to your doctor first.

Therapy

Working with a therapist is often one of the most effective ways to overcome your anxiety. A licensed therapist can teach you coping skills and help you manage your symptoms. A common recommendation in anxiety treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It focuses on the link between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT can help you identify and change negative thoughts and patterns that contribute to your anxiety.

Deep breathing exercises

Breathing exercises to manage anxiety are one of the best ways to minimize body twitches. This exercise is perfect as a quick fix to lower stress by distracting your body and mind. You can just focus on taking deep breaths, or you can try specific exercises like the 4-4-4 breathing, also known as box breathing, or the 4-5-6 technique. You can also practice deep breathing exercises regularly to help reduce your overall anxiety levels and make yourself less susceptible to anxiety twitches.

Improve your sleep hygiene

When your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, it usually produces more cortisol. This can worsen anxiety and might be a cause of twitches or muscle spasms. Improving your sleep can help your body and mind get the rest it needs and keep it balanced. Always try going to sleep and waking up at the same time daily, even on weekends, and sleeping in a dark and quiet room without any distractions.

Keep a journal

Many people with anxiety tend to bottle up their feelings. Anxiety journaling can provide temporary relief from overwhelming thoughts and help you work through emotions in a calm and safe environment. It can also help lower your stress levels before they cause muscle twitches. Additionally, keeping a journal can make it easier for you to track your symptoms as well as recognize potential anxiety triggers.

Exercise

Physical exercise can also alleviate specific anxiety symptoms. Often, exercise helps your body release endorphins, which can reduce stress and ease pain. Physical exercise can be a really great way to reduce tension. Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. If you are new to exercise, start slowly and then gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts over time.

When to see a doctor

In some cases, a person experiencing anxiety twitches may not need to see a doctor. If this symptom is caused by a short-term high-stress situation, it should start to clear once the situation resolves.

In other situations, anxiety twitching may be long-term or start to interfere with daily life. If this happens, you should see a doctor.

Anxiety twitches can be scary and annoying. The great news is that experiencing regular muscle twitches without any other symptoms is usually harmless. However, in order to treat muscle twitching caused by anxiety, it's necessary to treat the root cause of your anxiety first. If anxiety twitching is interfering with your daily life, or if you're worried about it, talk to your doctor — there are things they can do to help.

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