“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Body Tremors, Shaking, Trembling, Vibrating Anxiety Symptoms

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: October 8, 2019


Body Tremors, Shaking, Trembling, Vibrating Anxiety Symptoms

Body trembling, shaking, tremors and vibrating are common symptoms of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and others. Many people experience body tremors symptoms when they are anxious and stressed.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role, you can rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test or Anxiety Disorder Test. The higher the rating, the more likely it could be contributing to body trembling and tremors.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and body tremors, trembling, and shaking.

Body tremors, shaking, trembling anxiety symptoms description:

  • Your arms, hands, feet, legs, stomach, sides, chest, back, head, buttocks, groin, or even your entire body may feel shaky or like they are trembling, shaking or vibrating.
  • It feels as though your entire body is trembling.
  • You feel like your body is shaking, trembling, or vibrating for no apparent reason.
  • Your body feels jittery.
  • Even though you aren’t anxious or stressed, your body is trembling and shaking.
  • It feels like your body is vibrating.
  • Some people describe this symptom as body tremors.
  • After a nap or when waking up from sleep, your body feels like it is trembling, shaking, and vibrating.
  • Tremors, trembling, shaking or vibrating might be visible or not visible.

Body tremors, shaking, trembling or vibrating can occur on the exterior of the body or feel like it is occurring on the inside, or both.

Body tremors, shaking symptoms can persistently affect one area of the body only, can shift and affect another area or areas, and can migrate all over and affect many areas over and over again.

Body tremors, shaking symptoms can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel your body tremors once in a while and not that often, feel them off and on, or feel them all the time.

Body tremors, shaking anxiety symptoms may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Body tremors, shaking anxiety symptoms can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

Body tremors, shaking symptoms can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

Body tremors, shaking symptoms can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

Body tremors, shaking symptoms often seem more disconcerting when undistracted, when trying to rest or go to sleep, or when waking up from a nap or sleep.

While some people may be able to control their shaking, trembling, and vibrating by calming themselves down or by tightening and loosening their muscles, most often this symptom occurs involuntarily, meaning there isn’t much you can do to stop it from occurring.

Some people experience tremors only when moving certain muscles, while others experience tremors all the time regardless of muscle movement.

All of the above variations and combinations are common.

Medical Advisory

What causes the body trembling anxiety symptoms?

Behaving anxiously activates the stress response, which immediately causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.[1]

Part of the stress response changes include tightening the body’s muscles so that they are more resilient to damage and stimulating the nervous system so that our senses are amplified and our reactions are faster. Both of these changes can cause the body to tremble while a stress response is active.

When these responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can result in the body remaining in a semi emergency-readiness state, which we call stress-response hyperstimulation (also often referred to as “hyperarousal”).[2] A body that becomes stress-response hyperstimulated can exhibit similar symptoms to that of an active stress response. But there is an important difference. The body can exhibit symptoms involuntarily meaning at any time, making it seem as if they are occurring ‘out of the blue’ and without reason.

These involuntary symptoms can occur at any time. As long as the body is hyperstimulated, it can exhibit symptoms of any type, number, intensity, duration, frequency, and at any time. Experiencing body tremors, trembling, and shaking symptoms is a common symptom of both an active stress response and stress-response hyperstimulation.

Just as too much caffeine can cause jitteriness and trembling because caffeine is a stimulant, so can stress and stress-response hyperstimulation, since stress hormones are stimulants. Some people say that they have a “case of the nerves” because they are shaking so much.

Moreover, a lack of sleep can aggravate body tremors anxiety symptoms.[3] Many people who are sleep deprived experience this symptom until their sleep debt is caught up. Trembling, shaking, and vibrating commonly occur due to a lack of sleep.

The combination of a anxiety, stress, hyperstimulation, and sleep deprivation can cause a wide range of symptoms, including those that affect the body’s muscles and nervous system. These effects commonly cause body tremors, trembling, shaking, and vibrating symptoms.

How to get rid of the body tremors anxiety symptoms?

When anxiety body tremors symptoms are caused by apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, calming yourself down and shutting off the stress response will bring an end to the response and its changes. As your body recovers, this symptom should subside. Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When the body tremors anxiety symptoms are caused by hyperstimulation, it may take a lot more time for the body to recover and to the point where this symptom is eliminated. For more information about how long this could take, Recovery Support members can view the article “Hyperstimulation Recovery Expectation Guidelines” in chapter 10 in the Recovery Support area of our website.

Nevertheless, when the body has fully recovered from an active response or stress-response hyperstimulation, body tremors, shaking, and trembling anxiety symptoms will completely subside. Therefore, body tremors needn’t be a cause for concern.

You can speed up the recovery process by reducing your stress, practicing relaxed breathing, increasing your rest and relaxation, and not worrying about this feeling. Sure, it can be startling, unsettling and even bothersome. But again, when your body has recovered from the active stress response and/or stress-response hyperstimulation, anxiety-caused body tremors will completely disappear.

Play the clip below for Jim Folk's commentary about the Body Tremors anxiety symptoms. Jim Folk is the president of anxietycentre.com.


Body tremors is a common symptom of elevated stress, including the stress anxiety can cause. Jim Folk experienced body tremors to a severe degree during his 12 year struggle with anxiety disorder.

If you are having difficulty containing your worry about this symptom, you may want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome what seems like unmanageable worry and problematic anxiety.

For a more detailed explanation about all anxiety symptoms, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Disorders Signs and Symptoms section.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and coaching/counseling/therapy for problematic anxiety and its sensations and symptoms, including body tremors.


REFERENCES:

1. Harvard Health Publishing. “Understanding the Stress Response.” Harvard Health, May 2018.

2. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015.

3. Tomczak, A, et al. "CHANGES IN PHYSIOLOGICAL TREMOR RESULTING FROM SLEEP DEPRIVATION UNDER CONDITIONS OF INCREASING FATIGUE DURING PROLONGED MILITARY TRAINING." Biology of Sport, 16 Oct. 2014.