Can Anxiety Symptoms Occur On One Side Of The Body?

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated November 17, 2022

Can anxiety symptoms occur on just one side of the body?

Can anxiety symptoms occur on just one side of the body?

Since many medical conditions and medications can cause anxiety-like symptoms, we recommend discussing all new, changing, persistent, and returning anxiety symptoms with your doctor.

If you’ve done that and your doctor has attributed your symptoms solely to anxiety, this article may apply.

If you are uncertain about your doctor's diagnosis, you might want to seek a second or more opinions.

Regarding your question, anxious behavior, such as worry, activates the stress response, which prepares the body for emergency action.

This survival reaction is often referred to as the fight or flight response, the emergency response, the fight, flight, or freeze response (some people freeze when they are afraid, like a “deer caught in headlights”), or the fight, flight, freeze, or faint response (since some people faint when they are afraid).[1][2]

Visit our “Stress Response” article for more information about the many body-wide changes caused by the stress response.

The higher the degree of the stress response, the more dramatic the changes.

Since stress responses push the body beyond its internal balance (homeostasis), stress responses stress the body. As such, anxiety stresses the body.

Consequently, anxiety symptoms, including anxiety attack symptoms, are symptoms of stress. They are called anxiety symptoms because anxious behavior is the main source of stress that stresses the body, and a body under stress can exhibit symptoms of stress.

Stress, including anxiety-caused stress, can cause symptoms of any type, number, intensity, duration, frequency, and at any time, and on any part of the body.

While most people get anxiety symptoms that affect many locations on the body, some get anxiety symptoms in only one spot or on only one side of the body.

Therefore, yes, you can have anxiety symptoms on only one side of the body. While not as common as anxiety symptoms that affect the entire body, it is still common to have anxiety symptoms on only one side of the body.

However, don't be surprised if your symptoms change or migrate to a different part of the body over time. Since stress can cause the body to react in erratic ways, it's common for symptoms to change and shift even though you've had a specific symptom set for a while.

As long as the body is even slightly stressed, it can behave erratically, including causing symptoms to appear on only one side.

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequent Questions archive.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Can anxiety symptoms occur on just one side of the body?

References

1. Folk, Jim, and Liashko, Vitaly. “The Stress Response." anxietycentre.com, retrieved November 2022.

2. Godoy, Livea, et al. "A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications." Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience, 3, July 2018.