Can Anxiety Cause Muscle Weakness?

Written by: Vasundhara Shukla – M. Phil (Psychology)

Last updated date : September 25, 2022

Table of Contents
Article title – Coping with chronic pain
  1. Chapter 1
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3
  4. Chapter 4
  5. Chapter 5
  6. Chapter 6
  7. Chapter 7
  8. Chapter 8

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One of the most common mental illnesses is an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a spectrum rather than a specific illness. It can range from nervousness to fear to a nervous breakdown. Anxiety has various signs and symptoms which are not just feelings and thoughts but also effects on the body. Physical and mental health are both a part of our being. whole. This is because both the parts work together, physical health affects mental health and vice versa. In this article, we will discuss does anxiety causes muscle weakness, common physical signs of anxiety and how can anxiety cause physical signs like muscle weakness.

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Chapter 1:

What is Anxiety? 

Anxiety is a feeling that we experience when we are under stress. Anxiety has a very important role in our lives as it alerts us of any danger around us and helps prepare us to handle it. Everybody experiences anxiety differently, which can sometimes make it difficult to understand for others. Some people might avoid some situations because they make them feel anxious. When it starts affecting your work, relationships, and the way your lead your life, you should consider taking treatment.

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Chapter 2:

How does Anxiety Cause Muscle Weakness? The Connection Between Body and Mind

When you experience anxiety, your body activates the fight or flight mode. In this mode, your body prepares itself to fight out the danger or the problem or run away from the place. Common effects of physical signs of anxiety are rapid breathing, higher heart rate, feeling like you will pass out, urge to go to the bathroom, and muscle weakness. The body and mind are not separate from each other, rather they work together. What affects one will affect another too. So, remember to tell yourself- it’s not all in your head! It is very much real and requires treatment.

The physical signs of anxiety can reduce very quickly or can go on for days as well, depending upon the reason for stress. If you are dealing with stress every day, then you can also experience constant pain and muscle weakness. This can also make you weak and at risk for other more serious health problems.

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Chapter 3:

Can Anxiety Cause Muscle Weakness? 

The answer is yes! Anxiety can cause muscle weakness among many other things. Here are some common physical signs of anxiety-

Faster Heart Beats 

The heart starts beating very fast and it may also feel like you are having a heart attack. You might have experienced the dreaded pre-exam or pre-interview jitters where the palms keep sweating, mind races and heart keeps pumping. This is a very common reaction when we are under stress.

Breathlessness 

When your body is getting ready to fight or run away from danger which happens in anxiety, it also makes sure you have enough oxygen in your body to do either of those things. This is why you start feeling breathless which makes you breathe deeply.

Being Tired All the Time 

All this breathing and pumping heart makes the body tired. You might have noticed that when you are very anxious, it is difficult to stay alert for a long time. This is because all this requires a lot of energy and when the body diverts its energy to fighting stress and danger, there is little energy left to do anything else.

Sleep Problems 

When you get very tired, the body requires a nap to rest. But the confusing thing with anxiety is that it makes your mind race with many thoughts at once. This makes it difficult to sleep and makes you even more tired as you can’t rest.

Muscle Weakness 

In anger or anxiety, many people tend to clench their jaws or tightly close their fists. Their muscles become tense and tight. Keeping muscles tense for a long time can lead to muscle weakness.

Stomach Issues 

Problems in digestion and an upset stomach is a signs of anxiety. The need to go to the bathroom before an exam is a good example of how digestion and mental health are linked with each other.

Sweating 

Excessive sweating, sweaty palms, and sweaty soles of your feet can be a result of stress and anxiety.

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Chapter 4:

How can Anxiety Cause Muscle Weakness? 

Muscle weakness is when you feel that you do not have strength in your body. This may happen because of many reasons. When you are anxious, you start to take short quick breaths. While doing so not a lot of oxygen reaches your organs and they have to work harder. When you are anxious you may become very sensitive to your body and you might not have the energy and strength as before, making you more anxious.

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Chapter 5:

How to Manage Muscle Weakness? 

There are some ways by which you can decrease the weakness in your muscles-

  • Going for walks- In most cases, the muscle is not weak but feels that way because the body is tired due to anxiety. By going for a walk your body gets the message that the muscles are okay. It is also good for calming yourself down and going away from the overwhelming situation. Other kinds of physical activity can also help you deal with anxiety better. 
  • Relaxation exercises- Most deep breathing exercises can help reduce muscle weakness. Breathe in deeply and slowly exhale. Do this for 15 minutes, three times a day for daily relaxation and rewind.
  • Distract yourself- There are some kinds of stress that you can not help but go through. In some difficult situations, you might have a solution that will help you cope better. In such situations, it is good to distract yourself by talking to friends and family, walking in nature, working, or watching a good movie or TV show. Any activity that you find enjoyable and takes your mind off things can be done.

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Chapter 6:

When to Visit a Mental Health Professional?

These problems are scary and difficult to deal with on one’s own. A good support network can help you by listening and empathizing with you. But sometimes anxiety and muscle weakness do not go away despite using every self-help trick. In such a situation, it is best to seek help from a counselor or doctor. The self-help tips work better when they are used along with proper treatment. It is advised to see a mental health professional when the anxiety starts affecting important areas of life like relationships, work, and other aspects.

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Chapter 7:

Conclusion

Anxiety affects many people around the world and its physical manifestations can be scary for the sufferer. Anxiety has a huge impact on our social life and can make us feel lonely. Use the self-help tips to manage these signs and speak to your counselor for professional help. Enroll in our course ‘DBT for Social Anxiety‘ to know more about how to manage anxiety in social situations.

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  • Self-reflection material
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