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Muscle Weakness Anxiety Symptoms

Marilyn Folk BScN medical reviewer
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: April 3, 2019

Muscle weakness anxiety symptoms descriptions:

Any muscle or muscle group can be affected. It may involve one particular muscle or group of muscles, or may randomly shift from one muscle or group of muscles to another. It may also include several different muscles or groups of muscles at the same time.

This muscle weakness anxiety symptom can appear for a few brief moments then disappear, may last for minutes or hours, or may persist indefinitely. It also may occur and/or may be more noticeable and bothersome when trying to relax, go to sleep, when asleep, or resume when waking up. It can also be more problematic when you are trying to use your muscles, such as when walking or lifting.

The degree and intensity of this muscle weakness anxiety symptom can vary from person to person. For example, one or a group of muscles may be only slightly noticeable for one person, while it may be intensely noticeable and severely restricting for another.

This muscle weakness anxiety symptom can affect ANY muscle or group of muscles in the body, and/or may randomly migrate to various muscles or groups of muscle throughout the entire body. Many of those who experience stress and anxiety comment about weak muscles in the head and face, mouth, back of the head and neck, back and top of the shoulders, chest, arms, legs, hands, stomach, lower back, groin, and feet.

Some people experience great discomfort due to their muscle weakness anxiety symptoms. Some people also find their muscle weakness so restricting and debilitating that it impedes physical activity and impairs a normal lifestyle. Some people even become bedridden because they feel so weak.

This muscle weakness anxiety symptom can be experienced in one, many, or all of your muscle and muscle groups.

This muscle weakness anxiety symptom may occur as a response to feeling anxious or stressed, or may occur for no apparent reason.

This muscle weakness anxiety symptom can be mildly noticeable, moderately bothersome, or greatly problematic. It can occur rarely, frequently, or persistently, and may change from day to day and even moment to moment.

All combinations and variations of the above are common.

NOTE: It's common to experience muscle weakness with pain, and vice versa. If you are experiencing muscle weakness without pain, or pain without muscle weakness, this is also common and not unusual.

Why can anxiety cause the muscle weakness anxiety symptoms?

Medical Advisory
Because there are many medical conditions that can cause anxiety and anxiety-like sensations and symptoms, including this one, we recommend that all new, changing, persistent, and returning sensations and symptoms be discussed with your doctor. If your doctor concludes your sensations and symptoms are solely anxiety and/or stress related, you can be confident that there isn't another medical cause. Generally, most doctors can easily determine the difference between anxiety- and stress-caused sensations and symptoms from those caused by other medical reasons.

To be certain, however, you may want to seek a second and even third opinion. If all three opinions agree, you can be assured that stress (including anxiety-caused stress) is the cause of your sensations and symptoms and not another medical or biological reason.

When stress, including anxiety-caused stress, is the sole cause of muscle weakness, behaving in an apprehensive manner activates the stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about 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.

Some of these stress response changes include causing an increase in heart rate; an increase in respiration; shunting blood away from the parts of the body less important in an emergency and to the parts more important in an emergency, such as the brain, heart and muscles; an increase in blood pressure; putting the body’s nervous system on high alert, and a wide range of other changes that can prepare the body for danger. This combination of changes can cause muscles to feel weak even though they aren't actually weak. Many people experience this feeling when anxious or stressed. Feeling 'weak in the knees' when nervous is a common description of this symptom.

While this muscle weakness anxiety symptom may feel odd, it's actually normal when the body is experiencing an active stress response.

Because the stress response stresses the body, being overly anxious or stressed will cause frequent stress responses, which can overly stress the body. When the body becomes overly stressed, it can exhibit symptoms of stress, such as this muscle weakness anxiety symptom. For example, persistent muscle tension due to too frequent stress responses can cause muscles to become strained and fatigued. Fatigued muscles can feel weak, which is a common cause of this muscle weakness anxiety symptom.

There are good reasons for anxious and stressed people to experience muscle weakness. If you are experiencing the muscle weakness anxiety symptom, you aren't alone.

How to get rid of the muscle weakness anxiety symptoms?

When this symptom is caused by an active stress response, we simply need to wait until the stress response ends and the body has sufficient time to calm down. Once the body has recovered from the active stress response and its changes, this symptom should subside. Therefore, it needn’t be a cause for concern.

When the muscle weakness anxiety symptom is caused by an overly stressed body, reducing your body's stress and giving it time to recover should also eliminate this symptom. But you have to keep in mind that an overly stressed body can take a long time to recover. Reducing the body's stress overall generally doesn't happen quickly. You may need to reduce your body's stress for a few weeks or more before you see this symptom subside.

Nevertheless, when your body has completely recovered from persistently elevated stress, it will stop producing symptoms, including the muscle weakness anxiety symptom.

Regular exercise, light weight training, getting fresh air, relaxed breathing, and eating a healthy and balanced diet can also help alleviate this symptom. Worrying about it is not helpful, since worry stresses the body.

For a more detailed explanation about anxiety symptoms, including the muscle weakness anxiety symptom, 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:

You can return to our symptoms of anxiety list here.

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