Experiencing chills and shivers can be a common but unsettling symptom of anxiety, often manifesting during moments of heightened stress or panic. These physical sensations can leave you feeling cold and uncomfortable, even in a warm environment. This guide will show you simple ways to ease these symptoms, helping you handle your anxiety better and feel more comfortable.

What are anxiety chills?

Anxiety chills are physical sensations that often occur during episodes of anxiety, particularly during moments of intense stress, fear, or panic attacks. These chills can make you feel suddenly cold or shivery, even when there is no external reason for feeling cold. 

Physical reaction

Anxiety chills are part of your body’s flight-or-fight response. This reaction is triggered when your body prepares to respond to a perceived threat. In this state, adrenaline is released, causing various physiological changes, including rapid heart rate, increased breathing rate, and sometimes, cold chills.

Stress response

The chills can also be a response to your muscles tensing up as part of the stress response. Muscle tension followed by relaxation can produce shivering or shaking sensations. 

Temperature regulation

During anxiety attacks, changes in your body’s perception of temperature can occur, leading to feelings of being cold. This is not just psychological but also involves physical responses to stress, like changes in blood flow.

Causes of anxiety shivers & chills

Anxiety shivers and chills can be unsettling and uncomfortable, often leaving individuals puzzled about their origins. These physical reactions are closely linked to the body’s response to stress and anxiety.

Adrenaline surge

When faced with stress or danger, your body’s instinctual reaction is to release adrenaline, a hormone that primes you for quick action. This “fight-or-flight” response accelerates your heart rate, increases your breathing, and tightens your muscles.

These physiological changes improve your ability to respond to a threat but can also lead to involuntary shivering or chills. The adrenaline rush makes your body more alert and ready to act, which sometimes manifests as these physical sensations.

Muscle tension and release

Anxiety often leads to muscle tension, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and back. This tension can be your body’s way of bracing for potential harm.

When these tense muscles suddenly relax, they can trigger shivering or chills, much like your body’s reaction to cold temperatures. Although relieved, the release of muscle tension can produce these sensations as the muscles shift back to a relaxed state.

Hyperventilation

During an anxiety attack, you might start breathing quickly and shallowly, a condition called hyperventilation. This change in breathing can significantly lower the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood.

As a result, you might experience several symptoms, including a drop in body temperature that feels like chills. The lower levels of carbon dioxide can also hinder hemoglobin, a component in your blood, from releasing oxygen to your body tissues, leading to feelings of coldness and tingling.

Psychological response

Anxiety heightens your awareness of your surroundings and bodily sensations, making you more responsive to minor changes. For instance, slight shifts in temperature might be felt more acutely. Due to your heightened sensitivity during anxious moments, these small changes can lead to significant reactions, such as feeling extremely cold or experiencing chills.

Thermoregulation disruption

Anxiety can interfere with how your body regulates its internal temperature. When stressed, your body might send more blood to your vital organs and muscles to prepare for action. 

This means less blood reaches your skin, lowering your skin’s temperature and making you feel cold. This shift in blood flow is a natural defense mechanism, but it might cause discomfort, making you feel unusually cold or giving you chills.

Treatments for anxiety chills

Managing anxiety chills involves addressing the underlying anxiety and its physical manifestations. Effective treatments can vary widely, encompassing a range of therapeutic and pharmacological approaches tailored to individual needs.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies are crucial for treating anxiety by modifying negative behaviors and thought patterns:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps you catch and change the thoughts that scare you or make you anxious. When you change these thoughts, you might notice that you don’t get chills as often because your body isn’t reacting to false alarms.

Exposure Therapy

This therapy gently exposes you to the things that make you anxious but in a safe and controlled way. By doing this, your body learns to stay calm and not react with chills or panic when you face these situations in real life.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT equips you with skills to handle stress better and manage your emotions. When you’re better at controlling how you feel, you’re less likely to experience anxiety chills.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT teaches you to accept your feelings instead of fighting them. For example, if you feel chills, you might learn to notice them without panicking, which can help reduce your overall anxiety.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

CAT helps you understand why you react to certain situations with anxiety and chills. It then helps you change these old patterns for new ones that don’t make you anxious.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT focuses on your relationships because sometimes anxiety comes from problems with friends or family. Improving how you communicate and relate can make you feel more supported and less anxious.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT combines traditional cognitive therapy with mindfulness practices. It encourages you to live in the moment rather than worrying about what might happen, which can help calm your mind and reduce symptoms like chills.

You must consult a psychologist or mental health professional to benefit from these therapies. 

Medication

Medications can be a key part of managing anxiety disorders by helping to balance the chemicals in your brain that affect your mood and physical reactions:

Antidepressants (SSRIs and SNRIs)

These medications help by adjusting levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. When these chemicals are balanced, you might feel less anxious and notice fewer physical symptoms of anxiety like chills or shakes.

Benzodiazepines

These are often used for quick relief when anxiety feels overwhelming. They work fast to calm you down but are usually only recommended for short-term use because they can be habit-forming.

Beta-blockers

Although these are often used for heart conditions, they can also help with anxiety by blocking adrenaline (a hormone that can make you feel panicked and cause symptoms like a racing heart or trembling).

Anticonvulsants

These are not just for seizures—they can also help stabilize your mood. Doctors sometimes prescribe them to help reduce anxiety symptoms, making you feel more even and calm.

Lifestyle modifications

Lifestyle modifications can support the overall management of anxiety:

Regular exercise

Jogging, yoga, or swimming are great for your mind and body. They help lower your overall tension, lift your mood, and can even help you sleep better. This kind of physical activity helps release chemicals in your brain that naturally combat anxiety and stress.

Progressive muscle relaxation

This relaxation technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. It promotes physical and mental relaxation, which can directly reduce anxiety chills by easing the muscle tension that often accompanies anxiety.

Deep breathing exercises

Focusing on slow, deep breaths can activate your body’s relaxation response, lowering heart rate and reducing the intensity of anxiety chills. Practicing breathing exercises daily can help manage acute anxiety symptoms and maintain calmness.

Mindfulness and meditation

These practices involve focusing on the present moment and clearing your mind, which can significantly reduce stress. Regular mindfulness or meditation can help you stay centered, calm, and less overwhelmed by the chills and other anxiety symptoms.

Adequate sleep

Sleeping is crucial because it lets your brain and body recover and recharge. When well-rested, you’re likely to feel less anxious and more able to handle stress. A consistent sleep schedule can prevent the fatigue that often triggers anxiety chills.

Nutritional adjustments

What you eat and drink can affect your anxiety levels. Reducing caffeine and sugar is helpful because both make you feel jittery and tense. Cutting back on these can reduce spikes in your anxiety and lessen physical symptoms like chills and shaking.

Support systems

Support systems provide essential emotional support and practical advice for coping with anxiety:

Therapy groups

Joining a group therapy session allows you to meet others who are going through similar struggles.

Sharing your experiences and hearing theirs can provide new insights and lessen feelings of being alone in your journey. This communal support can make handling anxiety chills and other symptoms more manageable.

Family Therapy

This type of therapy helps your family understand what you’re going through with your anxiety. It teaches them how to support you better and helps create a more nurturing environment at home. When your family understands how to help, they can be a tremendous source of comfort, making it easier to manage anxiety symptoms like chills.

Peer support networks

Connecting with peers through online forums or local support groups offers continuous encouragement and practical coping strategies.

These networks can be a lifeline, providing tips others have found effective, which might also work for you.

Professional counseling

Regular meetings with a counselor provide a safe space to discuss your feelings and challenges. A counselor can guide you through various techniques to handle stress, tailor advice to your specific needs, and help you develop personalized strategies to reduce anxiety and prevent chills.

Final thoughts

Anxiety chills and shivers can be managed with the right treatment and support. If you’re struggling with anxiety and its physical symptoms, consider joining our anxiety treatment program in Arizona. Our experienced therapists are here to help answer your questions and guide you toward a life with less anxiety.

We provide Treatment for Anxiety across Arizona

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