Can Anxiety Symptoms Move Around?

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 9, 2022

can anxiety symptoms move around?

Can anxiety symptoms move around? For instance, can you have anxiety symptoms in one part of the body that move to a different part?

Yes, it’s common for anxiety symptoms to change and move around, such as having a symptom in one part of the body one time and then in a different part of the body another time.

It’s also common for one symptom or set of symptoms to change to another symptom or set of symptoms.

Most people with anxiety disorder notice their anxiety symptoms change and move around over time.

For instance, we often hear, “Just as I was getting used to and unafraid of the symptoms I had, they moved to a different part of the body, and I had to get used to and unafraid of the new ones. It seems this never ends where I’m having to adjust to my symptoms moving around all the time.

---------- Advertisement - Article Continues Below ----------


---------- Advertisement Ends ----------

My (Jim Folk) symptoms also moved around during my years with anxiety disorder! When I finally stopped reacting to the first batch of symptoms, they moved, and I had to start all over again with the moved symptoms.

Again, changing and moving symptoms is a very common experience for anxiety disorder. Here’s why anxiety symptoms can move:

Anxious behavior activates the stress response, causing many body-wide changes that prepare the body for emergency action.

This survival reaction is often referred to as the stress response, fight or flight response, fight, flight, or freeze response (since some people freeze like a deer caught in headlines when they are afraid), 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 changes caused by the stress response.

Since stress responses push the body beyond its balance point (equilibrium), stress responses stress the body. A body that’s stressed can exhibit symptoms of stress.

Therefore, anxiety symptoms are symptoms of stress. They are called anxiety symptoms because anxious behavior is the main source of the stress that stresses the body, creating symptoms.

Furthermore, chronic activation of the stress response, such as from overly anxious behavior, can cause the body to become chronically stressed, which we call stress-response hyperstimulation since stress hormones are powerful stimulants.[3][4]

Chronic stress can cause chronic symptoms – symptoms that persist even though you might not feel anxious or stressed at that moment.

Visit our “Hyperstimulation” article for more information about the many ways hyperstimulation can affect the body.

Because of the many ways hyperstimulation can affect the body, hyperstimulation can cause the body to act erratically, causing symptoms to change and move.

Recovery Support members can read the section “Hyperstimulation And Its Effects” in chapter 14 for an in-depth description of the many ways hyperstimulation can affect the body.

While some people might not have their symptoms move, most do. Changing and moving anxiety symptoms is a common anxiety disorder phenomenon.

As the degree of hyperstimulation increases, so does the likelihood that your symptoms will move.

Nevertheless, since anxiety symptoms, whether acute or chronic, are symptoms of stress, you don’t have to worry about them or when they move. ALL anxiety symptoms subside when you eliminate issues with anxiety and hyperstimulation.

You can eliminate stress in many ways. For instance, you can read our article “60 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress” to get started. As the body recovers from hyperstimulation (chronic stress), it stops sending symptoms, including symptoms that move.

If you are having difficulty with anxiety, hyperstimulation, or their symptoms, connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome issues with anxiety and hyperstimulation.

Overall, changing and moving anxiety symptoms is a common anxiety disorder experience. Most people notice this during their struggle with anxiety disorder.

NOTE: We recommend discussing all new, changing, persisting, and returning symptoms with your doctor as some medical conditions and medications can cause anxiety-like symptoms. If your doctor attributes your symptoms solely to anxiety, you can be confident there isn’t a medical or medication cause.

---------- Advertisement - Article Continues Below ----------


---------- Advertisement Ends ----------

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 Move Around?

References

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

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

3. Elbers, Jorina, et al. "Wired for Threat: Clinical Features of Nervous System Dysregulation in 80 Children." Pediatric Neurology, Dec 2018.

4. Yaribeygi, Habib, et al. “The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review.” EXCLI Journal, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 2017.