Anxiety shivering cold

Causes and How To Cope

When we’re anxious, our bodies go into fight, flight, or freeze response to regulate our temperature, which may result in chills.

Chills affect us all at different points in our lives. Often, this is our body’s response to being cold. But you might not know that chills can also be a symptom of anxiety. Physiological reactions to anxiety can cause your blood to flow less efficiently and, therefore, leave you with chills.

If you have chills from anxiety, you can begin to feel shaky and start to shiver. Because of these symptoms, you may think you have no control over your body when anxious.

If you experience chills as a symptom of anxiety, you’re not alone. There are strategies to help you manage this symptom.

Yes, anxiety produces various physiological symptoms, including chills. Still, chills occur only during specific forms of anxiety, not all of them.

If you have anxiety chills, you may experience:

  • shivering
  • shaking
  • cold flashes
  • sweating

How does this happen? When you’re anxious, your body’s regulation of temperature might promote and prevent heat loss simultaneously — the sensation results in chills or sweating, according to one review.

The body can often heat up during many types of anxiety but may feel chilly only during panic or specific phobias.

Anxiety chills might occur during specific types of anxiety, such as flying phobia and panic attack symptoms, but not other forms of anxiety.

Your brain also jumps into the fight, flight, or freeze response to protect you. For example, if you suddenly become drenched in sweat and then shiver when you’re anxious, your brain is trying to regulate what is happening within your body.

“It’s possible that anxiety chills could be misinterpreted sensations occurring along with physical fight or flight sensations of anxiety (e.g., feeling keyed up, hyperarousal, etc), in which physical tension and feeling ‘shaky’ leads one to think they are experiencing chills,” says Matthew Boland, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Reno, Nevada, and a member of Psych Central’s Medical Affairs Team.

“This is consistent with the idea that those who experience anxiety often have difficulty accurately interpreting physical sensations in the body,” adds Boland.

Physical symptoms associated with anxiety are often missed in primary care settings or misdiagnosed as other conditions. In some cases, anxiety occurs with other medical conditions, making it difficult to distinguish between a mental health condition or a physical one.

Some common physical symptoms of anxiety are:

  • indigestion
  • sweating
  • keyed up and on edge
  • abdominal pain
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • chest pain
  • hyperarousal

According to the chart below, panic attacks, anxiety, and COVID-19 share some symptoms.

Anxiety symptoms

  • insomnia
  • indigestion
  • sweating
  • abdominal pain
  • dizziness
  • racing heart


  • headache
  • chest pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fatigue

COVID-19 symptoms

  • fever
  • cough
  • loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion
  • runny Nose
  • diarrhea

Managing the physical symptoms of anxiety could lead you to a healthier life. Several strategies have been effective in relieving anxiety.

Pharmological treatment for anxiety

Several types of medications have helped treat anxiety. Typical medications used in anxiety treatment include:

  • benzodiazepines
  • anxiolytics (e.g., buspirone)
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • MAO inhibitors (MAOI)
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)

If you’re considering medication for the treatment of anxiety, consider talking with a doctor about your symptoms. Also, it’s important to remember that medication isn’t suitable for everyone. You may respond to medication differently than another person.


Therapy is another option in the treatment of anxiety. Therapy for anxiety may include:

  • cogntive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • exposure therapy
  • psychodynamic psychotherapy

Though this list isn’t extensive, these therapy methods are evidence-based treatments for anxiety disorders.

Using coping skills at home

You can use several strategies at home to help reduce anxiety. When you are experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety, it can be noticeable to others and you may feel embarrassed.

Some helpful strategies for managing physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • deep breathing exercises
  • practicing progressive muscle relaxation
  • using imagery techniques
  • practicing yoga
  • seeking out positive supports
  • mindfulness meditation

Medication, therapy, and using coping skills, alone or in combination, can help you find relief from the effects of anxiety. Learning and applying coping skills gets easier the more that you practice them.

If you are overwhelmed by anxiety or panic attacks that cause physical symptoms, you’re not alone. Speaking with a therapist can help. You can find a therapist here.

Consider checking out your local NAMI chapter to find resources near you.

For more information on anxiety and its physical symptoms:

  • National Alliance for Mental Illness
  • Anxiety & Depression Association of America
  • The Tribe Wellness Community

The Psych Central anxiety hub can help you manage your symptoms. You don’t have to go through anxiety alone.

How Your Anxiety Might Be Affecting You Physically

As we’ve expanded our knowledge on the human body over the years, one conclusion we’ve reached is that the mind and body have a complex connection, but a connection nonetheless. When it comes to our mental health, the symptoms that we feel certainly affect our mood, behavior, and emotional processing. But what about the times that we feel a negative impact on our bodies? 

When we consider conditions such as anxiety, a lot of us can probably think of how our nerves or worries make us physically feel. Maybe you feel sick to your stomach. Maybe you sweat or feel your heart rate increase. A lot of us have and will experience feelings of anxiety from time to time that affect us mentally and physically. For many others who struggle with an anxiety disorder, the vast effects it can have on the mind and the body can result in distress and challenges in daily life. Regardless of the extent to which you experience anxiety in your life, it is important to understand not only the symptoms we experience mentally, but the physical ones as well.  

What Are the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety?

Anxiety isn’t just in your might actually feel it physically.

When it comes to anxiety, there are some hallmark symptoms that come to mind: restlessness, irritability, excessive worry, racing thoughts, inability to concentrate. These symptoms certainly cause a lot of distress, but are mostly localized to the mind and our overall disposition. It is crucial to have an awareness that these symptoms help to define anxiety and related disorders, however it is just as important to gain an understanding of how anxiety can have an impact on you physically. So what are the physical symptoms of anxiety? Though this is not an exhaustive list, here are some common physical symptoms of anxiety: 

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) Symptoms. You can experience a variety of sensations within your GI system including nausea, stomach pain, problems with digestion, difficulty eating, and even excessive gas.
  • Sleep Issues. Insomnia is a common symptom of anxiety. Other difficulties with sleeping include waking up frequently throughout the night or having problems staying asleep. 
  • Various Forms of Pain. Headaches tend to be a common physical symptom of anxiety. But there can also be more general effects in the musculature such as muscle tension and pain
  • Skin Issues. Think of the relationship between your skin and emotions in terms of blushing when you are around a love interest or when you receive a nice compliment. In the same way, anxiety can affect your skin. It turns out you can actually get strange rashes, eczema, or other flare-ups as a result of your anxiety. 
  • Effects on the Autonomic Nervous System. Quite a bit of physical symptoms actually fall under this category. The ANS controls a lot of the more automatic processes that happen in our bodies. Anxiety can cause you to: breathe shorter and more rapidly, have a pounding or increased heart rate, tremble or shake, sweat excessively, and yawn more often.  

When your body feels threatened or under a great deal of stress, it undergoes something called the “fight or flight response.” This is a natural reaction that has been preserved over the course of evolution and dates back to when our ancestors were under physical threat by predators in the wild. It results in a number of physical responses in the body that include advantageous things like dilated pupils and directing our circulation away from processes like digestion and toward our muscles and other components of the body that are more helpful for immediate survival. Believe it or not though, our feelings of anxiety can actually trigger this response within our body, creating a number of unwanted symptoms (some of which are mentioned in the list above). These physical symptoms, among others, can be challenging to deal with in one’s daily life. 

The physical symptoms that can be caused by anxiety are equally as troubling as the mental symptoms for a lot of people. Feeling like you are struggling to breathe and feeling like your heart is racing are two common physical effects that your anxiety could have on your body.  

Can Anxiety Make You Cold?

Cold sensations and chills are actually a common physical symptom of anxiety

Yet another interesting physical effect of anxiety is its ability to alter how our body temperature feels. Feeling chilled or having cold sensations is an especially confusing physical symptom that can result from anxiety, and it thus deserves some special attention in order to understand how something as simple as feeling cold can actually be a consequence of your mood and emotions.

Interestingly enough there are even multiple different reasons that your anxiety could be making you feel cold. Here are some of the ways we know that cold sensations and anxiety are associated: 

  • It’s related to sweating. Though it sounds kind of paradoxical, the sweating symptom that can occur with anxiety might actually be what’s making you cold. As we mentioned before, anxiety is kind of like a fight or flight response, but it’s often a poor one. When your body naturally heats up as a result and probably produces some sweat, coming across cold air can make you feel pretty cold. So anxiety can essentially cause hot and cold sensations, but when the process of heating up is less noticeable, it’s the feelings of cold that we tend to focus on. 
  • There’s poor circulation in your extremities. When your hands and feet are cold, it can feel like your entire body is cold. Essentially, anxiety can cause us to hyperventilate and consequently our blood flows less efficiently. Blood flow is also directed toward our larger organs that are more crucial to survival, and thus our extremities are left with sensations of being cold. 
  • It could be fear causing your chills. This is especially relevant to people who struggle with panic disorder and experience panic attacks or fear of having them. It is a complicated reaction that isn’t entirely understood, but something about the rush of adrenaline that accompanies a sudden fight or flight response can cause a chill or shiver down your spine.  
  • You might be more sensitive to feeling cold. People who struggle with anxiety are often more sensitive than the average person to bodily sensations. Whereas some people might ignore particular physical sensations, anxious individuals may be hyper focused on them. Feeling slightly cold in general can spike your anxiety in terms of wondering if something is wrong, and thus it becomes a cycle. 
Cold sensations and chills aren’t really symptoms that come to mind when we think about anxiety. But it’s important to recognize that you might be feeling cold a lot of the time as a result of struggling with anxiety. For many reasons, there are physical effects that accompany the fight or flight response that can result in your body feeling chilled.

I Have My Ways Of Dealing With My Psychological Symptoms, So How Can I Treat the Physical Ones?

How to manage the physical effects that anxiety has on your body. 

As we’ve mentioned previously, the physical effects that anxiety can have on the body are often just as challenging to deal with as the effect it has mentally. Thankfully, there are still plenty of self-care related adjustments you can make in your life in order to cope with the physical symptoms of anxiety. Here are just a few suggestions in terms of managing your symptoms: 

  • Maintaining a healthy diet. Try limiting your sugar and carb intake as much as you can and opt for healthier choices that will provide your body with more energy like high fiber and unsaturated fats. You’ll also want to avoid substances that could actually make your anxiety worse, such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. 
  • Being physically active. Frequent exercise not only helps release chemicals that can boost your mood and allow you to feel happier, but it’s also great for your physical health. While reducing your stress in general and also strengthening your body physically, exercising is a great coping strategy to reduce a variety of symptoms. It can also help improve your sleep!
  • Utilizing relaxation techniques. Yoga and meditation are just two examples of relaxation strategies that you can try. Breathing exercises are great for calming down, and can actually relax the body physically such as by slowing heart rate. Relaxation and mindfulness techniques are a great way to relieve stress and physical tension in the body, and also distract and ground oneself mentally. 
Relaxation techniques like yoga can promote a sense of calm both mentally and physically within your body. Using strategies such as yoga or meditation can ultimately help reduce a lot of the symptoms associated with anxiety, including the physical ones. 

The extensive impact that anxiety can have on the body both mentally and physically can be troubling and intimidating to deal with. Symptoms like headaches or feeling cold can be associated with your anxiety, even though you might want to attribute them to other reasons. The good news is, having an awareness of the physical symptoms anxiety can cause is one step in the right direction in terms of reducing your symptoms. More importantly, having an idea of how you can encompass a variety of symptoms in your self-care or treatment plan will ultimately help you reduce the stress and challenges you experience in your daily life.

Panic attacks

Panic attacks (episodic paroxysmal anxiety) - attacks of severe anxiety (panic) or fear (most often - fear of death, less often - fear of losing consciousness, loss of control, helplessness or fear of "going crazy"), accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and a feeling of " suffocation, shortness of breath. Sometimes there are additional symptoms such as increased blood pressure, a feeling of "internal trembling", trembling in the limbs, a feeling of "hot flashes" of heat or cold, numbness of the extremities, increased sweating, a feeling of "unstability" or dizziness, nausea, derealization or depersonalization, etc.

Panic attacks last on average 5 to 30 minutes. However, sometimes they can last several hours, and in rare cases - up to several days.

I must say that even 30 years ago this disease was extremely rare. But now the incidence of panic attacks is increasing exponentially every year! Especially in big cities. Alas, panic attacks are considered a “disease of megacities”. And they suffer, most often, people with increased anxiety and the so-called perfectionists.

Earlier, in Soviet medicine, this disorder was called " sympathoadrenal crises ". This name, more than the modern one, reflected the essence of the processes occurring in the body during panic attacks. Nevertheless, I will not bother readers with a description of biochemical processes and a list of the hormones and neurotransmitters involved in these reactions. Knowing this practically does not affect the fact of the occurrence of seizures. Because biochemical processes are just an "intermediate link" in the chain of cause and effect relationships occurrence of panic attacks . What then is the "primary link", so to speak, the root cause?

Panic attacks occur suddenly, and, as it often seems, without any external causes or under the influence of minor unpleasant factors (an ordinary quarrel in the family, another trouble at work, overcrowding and stuffiness in a subway or train car, a long “traffic jam” on the road, etc. ). etc.). In fact, panic attacks always occur against the background of an already long-term depression (most common), or after repeated or severe stress (or rather, distress). Don't be surprised by this, because it is quite difficult for an ordinary person, not a specialist, to diagnose depression. Especially, at himself. Moreover, its mild or atypical forms. Especially if it lasts a year or several years (and for some people - since childhood!). In this case, they may not even remember how they felt without depression. In this variant, the body functions “with the last of its strength”, works “at the limit of its capabilities”; and some minor unpleasant event can be the “last straw” for him! Figuratively speaking, a panic attack is “hysteria of the body”, its “desperate cry: “I can’t do this anymore !!!”

Well, in the question "Who is to blame?" figured it out. Now let's move on to the equally important question "What to do?" The fact that no one in the world has yet died from panic attacks is little consolation for those suffering from this excruciating disorder. To say that panic attacks are an unpleasant state is an understatement! These are unbearable sensations, and in the most severe cases, a real feeling of approaching death, which a person is sometimes forced to experience daily! And most importantly, he does not understand what is happening to him, and how to stop it!

Panic attacks sharply reduce the quality of a person's life, subordinating her entire expectation of the next attack. And, accordingly, they affect social activity, sometimes making a person completely incapacitated.

When panic attacks first appeared in the clinical practice of physicians, they were treated empirically with various sedatives and tranquilizers. However, after their cancellation, the seizures reappeared, and with prolonged use of these drugs, tolerance (insensitivity) inevitably and rather quickly set in. Therefore, in order to stop panic attacks, it was necessary to constantly increase doses or resort to more “strong” tranquilizers. But everywhere there is a limit: the number of tranquilizers is not unlimited, especially their doses. It was necessary to remember another very important aspect: long-term use of these drugs causes dependence on them. And after the abolition of tranquilizers, the symptoms of mental and physical withdrawal joined the renewed panic attacks, which further worsened the patient's condition.

Then the tactics of treatment were somewhat changed: antidepressants were added to "light" or small doses of "medium-powered" tranquilizers. And it was a "breakthrough" in the treatment of panic attacks! Because antidepressants do not just "relieve" the symptoms, but they affect the foundation on which these attacks are based - depression itself! Of course, in modern medicine there are a huge number of antidepressants, and the effectiveness of their effect on panic attacks is very different. But an experienced psychotherapist or psychiatrist can quite accurately select a drug that is suitable for a particular person. It is important to note that antidepressants have a cumulative effect, so their therapeutic effect does not appear immediately after the appointment, but after a certain time (on average, after a month). And, here, the full duration of treatment with antidepressants is, at best, from 6 to 12 months, and sometimes up to several years.

At the same time, there are cases of especially severe courses of panic attacks, when the appointment of even "powerful" antidepressants for a sufficiently long time does not bring the desired effect, i.e. panic attacks do not stop completely, but only become less pronounced or occur less frequently. In this version, a person, anyway, does not feel healthy and constantly lives in fear of the next attack. In this case, doctors are forced to launch "heavy artillery" - to add NEUROLEPTICS to the treatment, which patients have to take for quite a long time. Antipsychotics have a large number of unpleasant side effects, which is why many patients refuse them.

However, there is another way to treat panic attacks. He is not a drug! That is, there is a REAL METHOD OF COMPLETE CURING FROM PANIC ATTACKS, ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT RESORTING TO ANY KIND OF MEDICINES !!! This method is PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC.

In the modern world there are a lot of different types and directions of psychotherapy. But, it must be said bluntly that with panic attacks, most of them are not effective without medical support.

However, the method that I use in my psychotherapeutic work is unique. It often allows you to completely eliminate panic attacks in 1 session! One or two more sessions are required to eliminate the FEAR of the appearance of seizures (or their expectation).

But in order to begin the direct elimination of panic attacks, a certain “intellectual” preparation of the patient is necessary. It requires from 8 to 12 sessions (depending on the severity of the disease and the personal characteristics of the patient) with a frequency of 1-2 sessions per week.

After eliminating panic attacks and the fear of their occurrence, it is extremely important to “develop” the underlying causes that led to their appearance. This will be a kind of "insurance" against the occurrence of panic attacks in the future. This requires 3-4 months on average (with the frequency of classes 1 time per week). But, having worked through these “deep roots”, a person not only completely gets rid of panic attacks, but also depression, solves many personal problems and begins to live a full life!

"X-Clinic" article - Symptoms of panic attacks and how to deal with them The editors of talked to a psychotherapist and learned everything about panic attacks firsthand. Details - in our material!

What is a panic attack

A panic attack is an attack of sudden fear and intense anxiety for no apparent reason. The origins of panic disorder are not entirely clear. However, it is believed that the disease has a genetic predisposition and more often affects the fair sex. Women are more prone to panic attacks and suffer from this disorder 2-3 times more often than men.

Panic attacks cannot lead to death, despite the fact that this is the sensation that most often accompanies them. The more frequent attacks occur, the worse the quality of life becomes. People who have repeatedly experienced panic attacks become increasingly anxious and subconsciously try to avoid places or situations where and when they succumbed to fear. Those who have ever experienced an attack at night, subsequently face sleep disorders.

What are the symptoms of a panic attack

A panic attack is a case of an attack of fear with a sense of imminent death or anxiety, accompanied by certain symptoms. Most often, these include: rapid heartbeat and pulse, sweating, chills or a feeling of heat, tremors, shortness of breath and suffocation, dizziness, fainting, fear of death, and others. If 4 of the symptoms listed above are present, we can talk about an attack of a panic attack.

What to do in case of a panic attack

The most important thing to do during a panic attack is to shift your attention. Any method is fine for distraction. If the attack caught you in a public place, then you can clench and unclench your fists, rub your earlobes or step from foot to foot. If the panic caught you by surprise at home, try turning on the music, start doing household chores: washing dishes, dusting. Any activity that involves muscle work and requires attention will do.

Since a panic attack is accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and a feeling of stuffiness, it will not be superfluous to take a couple of sips of water and concentrate on breathing. It is best to learn a few techniques that will quickly relieve tension. In case of an attack, start with an exhalation - slow it down, and the pulse will also slow down. The ratio of the length of inhalation and exhalation should be 1:2. You can experiment and choose the technique that will help you. A smartphone can also help to distract from panic. Games, social networks - all this will switch attention and distract from a panic attack.

How normal anxiety differs from a panic attack

The mechanism that triggers a panic attack is no different from what causes ordinary anxiety - both are psychophysical reactions to danger. The difference is that a panic attack is a reaction to danger in the absence of danger. Nevertheless, a false alarm triggers the same cascade of reactions as a normal alarm - the sympathetic system is activated, adrenaline is released.

A panic attack can occur against the background of excessive physical exertion, overwork and exhaustion, as well as against the background of the abuse of stimulants and alcohol. In addition, stress and unresolved conflict situations can provoke an attack. Lack of understanding of one's own experiences and feelings, a tendency to avoid negative emotions and ignore them also increase vulnerability to panic disorder.

How to prevent a panic attack from turning into a panic disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by a number of symptoms, one of which is a panic attack. In order to make a diagnosis of "panic disorder", it is necessary that panic episodes manifest themselves constantly for a month and are not associated with threats, dangers and previous diseases. In addition, attacks should be accompanied by the following symptoms: anxiety about the repetition of attacks, loss of self-control, a sharp change in behavior.

How to treat panic attacks and when to see a specialist

Seeing a specialist for recurring panic attacks is a must. Therapy is selected individually and, as a rule, includes psychotherapeutic work and drug therapy. Psychotherapy implies a variety of techniques aimed at understanding and understanding the causes of problems, learning how to deal with the symptoms of the disease, methods of relaxation. Psychotherapy can take place in the form of individual meetings with a psychotherapist or in the form of group sessions with other patients.

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