Does anxiety raise body temperature

Can Anxiety Raise Body Temperature?

Anxiety is a natural response to a threat you perceive. It starts with a physiological reaction in your brain that affects the rest of your body.

When you perceive a stressor, your body goes through changes, and you may experience mental and physical symptoms.

These symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • breathing fast
  • chest pain or pressure
  • difficulty sleeping
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • feeling hot or cold
  • nausea
  • difficulty focusing
  • shaking
  • sweating
  • muscular weakness
  • thoughts of impending doom

Yes. In some rare cases, anxiety symptoms may lead to a rise in body temperature. This is sometimes referred to as psychogenic fever, or a fever caused by psychological reasons.

Although more research on humans is needed, some human and animal studies and case reports from 2014, 2020, and 2021 suggested that acute stress can sometimes lead to fever.

A 2015 research review of both animal studies and human case reports indicated that exposure to stress raises body temperature.

The average body temperature for human adults typically ranges between 96°F and 98°F (35.6° and 36.7°C). But many factors can cause temperature changes, including hormones, time of the day, and activity level.

So, it’s not unusual for your body temperature to fluctuate up or down by around 1°F (-17°C) throughout the day.

Repeated stress or isolated highly stressful events could make that fluctuation more significant, though.

The above-mentioned review found that some people who were exposed to a one-off anxiety-inducing situation developed a fever as high as 106°F (41°C).

Other people experiencing stress for long periods of time developed low-grade fevers that lasted months to years. Their temperatures ranged from 99° to 100°F (37° to 38°C).

Psychogenic fever seems to be a physiological response to emotional disturbance. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that this type of fever has co-occurring physical causes, such as infection or inflammation.

In fact, the review indicated that if your fever is due to physical causes, you can relieve it by taking common fever reducers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

This isn’t the case for fever caused by anxiety or stress. But medications that treat anxiety symptoms, including diazepam (Valium) and buspirone (Buspar), may work on psychogenic fever.

Only a health professional can accurately explore your treatment options and the benefits and side effects of anxiety medications.

What about panic attacks?

Panic attacks are intense fear responses that some people living with anxiety experience.

As a type of anxiety episode, it’s possible that your body temperature may also rise during a panic attack.

Anxiety is an intense fight, flight, or freeze stress response when you face a threat, real or perceived. This is a natural process that aims to protect you from danger.

During the stress response, your body releases stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, to prepare you to fight or escape the stressor.

These stress hormones have an impact on the rest of your body, causing:

  • increasing heart rate
  • narrowing blood vessels
  • breathing rapidly
  • sweating quickly

Narrowing of your blood vessels could result in a fast rise in your body temperature. You may experience this rise as hot flashes or even chills. To cool down, your body may start sweating and you may feel the need to breathe faster.

The physical effects of anxiety typically diminish or go away when you address the underlying cause of the anxiety.

If you live with an anxiety disorder, though, you may continually experience symptoms, including a rise in body temperature.

But it’s possible to manage anxiety symptoms, and doing so could help you find relief if you live with a frequent low-grade fever. It’s highly advisable that you discuss your symptoms with a health professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

The following are a few things you can do to cope with the physical symptoms of anxiety.


If you regularly experience anxiety, consider discussing your symptoms with a health professional. Among many things, they could recommend medications to help manage your symptoms.

Medications that might help relieve anxiety and reduce physical symptoms include:

  • benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and diazepam (Valium)
  • buspirone (Buspar)
  • paroxetine (Paxil)
  • phenobarbital (Solfoton, Luminal)

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques, such as box breathing and mindful meditation, can help shift your focus away from anxious thoughts.

Taking deep, slow breaths whenever you feel your anxiety rise can help slow down your heart rate and calm your body and mind.

A short meditation can serve as a quick way to relax your nervous system. Practicing meditation regularly can help you manage your stress response and your anxiety symptoms.

Physical activity

Exercise and physical activity could help you manage stress.

Even a short walk around the block can provide relief, especially if you can focus on your breathing.

If you like running, a good run may distract your body into thinking you’re fleeing from your stressor. And, as an added benefit, your body releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. After you stop working out, your body may switch from an alert state to a rest and relax state.

Yoga may also be an effective activity to manage chronic anxiety. You can use it as a form of exercise and meditation practice.


Exploring the root cause of your anxiety can better help you manage its symptoms. A therapist can support you in this process.

Finding a therapist who has experience treating anxiety can help you develop coping skills that may offer temporary and long-term relief.

Anxiety symptoms can be both mental and physical. Although rare, physical symptoms of anxiety could include a rise in your body temperature or a fever.

A few studies and case reports showed that after experiencing a highly stressful event, some people experience a rise in body temperature. Some of them may even experience an anxiety-related fever as high as 106°F (41°C). Ongoing stress may also cause low-grade fevers that last for months.

This type of fever typically doesn’t respond to regular fever reducers. Instead, anxiety medications may offer relief. Only a health professional can discuss the pros and cons of taking these medications.

Regular relaxation practices, like meditation, breathing, and physical activity, can also help you manage symptoms of anxiety.

Change in Body Temperature Caused By Anxiety

The Change in Body Temperature Anxiety Symptom:

Your body’s temperature seems to fluctuate somewhat higher or lower than the normal 98. 6ºF (37ºC). Or, your body temperature is somewhat different each time you take it.

The reason why anxiety can cause a change in body temperature

Normal body temperature on average is approximately 98.6°F. It's quite common, however, for body temperature to fluctuate 1°F one way or the other. This fluctuation can occur for a number of reasons. For example, if you're quiet and relaxed, your body temperature may drop a bit. But if you're active and racing around during the day, it may elevate to the higher end within the normal range.

Other factors that affect body temperature include metabolic rate, weight, exercise, age, hormones, pregnancy, and gender.

The body's biological clock also affects body temperature. For example, prior to going to sleep the body cools its body temperature somewhat to help bring on sleep. As we wake up, the biological clock increases body temperature so that we can function normally during the day.

Bacterial infection can also cause the body temperature to rise. In fact, it's one of the most common causes of increased body temperature. Since viruses and bacteria have a hard time surviving at temperatures higher than normal body temperature, when the body detects a bacterial infection, it involuntarily increases its temperature (fever) and increases blood flow to speed up the body's defense actions in order to fight the infection. It's not uncommon for the body to raise its body temperature as much as 3 to 5°F to fight off an infection. Because elevated body temperature also causes harm to the body, we don't want to let prolonged high temperatures go untreated. As we mentioned earlier, isn't uncommon, however, for body temperatures to fluctuate 1° F above or below the normal range. This is considered normal.

There are other factors that can affect body temperature, including:

  • Medications - antibiotics, narcotics, and antihistamines (to name a few)
  • Medical conditions - heart condition, heart attack, cancer, leukemia, and Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Exposure to cold (low body temperature)
  • Shock (low body temperature)
  • Alcohol (low body temperature)
  • Drug use (low body temperature)
  • Metabolic disorders - diabetes and hyperthyroidism

How you take your body temperature may also produce varying results. For example, rectal or tympanic (ear) temperatures are normally as much as 1°F higher than oral temperatures. Axillary (armpit) temperature may be as much as 1°F lower than oral temperatures.

Regarding stress and anxiety, since both can increase the body’s metabolism, and the by-product of increased metabolism is heat, being stressed and/or anxious can also increase body temperature.

It's also common for episodes of increased stress and anxiety to cause a person to feel cold or chilly because of the restricted blood flow to the skin due to the constriction of blood vessels caused by the stress response. When we feel cold or chilly, the body wants to increase its body temperature because it is dropping toward the low end within the normal range.

So yes, stress and anxiety can cause a change in body temperature. But that change is a minor one, and not more than plus or minus 1° F. If you are experiencing a more dramatic change, you should see your doctor. There may be another reason for your higher or lower body temperature.

Addressing your stress and anxiety issues can help to diminish and eventually eliminate body temperature change due to stress and anxiety. Also, regular deep relaxation and regular mild exercise can also help to stabilize fluctuating body temperatures.

Nevertheless, anxiety-caused changes in body temperature aren’t harmful, so there’s no need to worry about a change in body temperature. These changes will subside as you address your stress and anxiety issues.

Chronic stress can cause fever


Yu.S. Kotikovich

  • MORION Publishing House

Summary. Japanese scientists conducted an epidemiological study on psychogenic fever

Scientists from Kyushu University, Japan, led by Dr. Takakazu Oka, conducted a new epidemiological study on psychogenic fever, a poorly understood condition that occurs in response to strong emotional experiences and is characterized by an increase in body temperature in the absence of an infectious agent . The results of the work are presented in the journal "Temperature".

A person who has ever experienced stress or increased anxiety in their life is most likely familiar with the physical manifestations of these conditions - shortness of breath, fatigue, chest tightness, nausea, muscle pain and other non-specific symptoms. Over time, stress can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and psychogenic fever. Practitioners are most often not fully aware of the impact of mental illness on the state of the body as a whole, and as a result, many patients with signs of stress or anxiety do not receive adequate treatment. Currently, there are not even statistical data on the prevalence of psychogenic fever, however, scientists note that it occurs quite often and is especially common among students striving for academic success. In some people, this condition is manifested by a rapid increase in body temperature up to 41 ° C, in others - up to 37–38 ° C. The mechanism of this phenomenon is still not fully understood.

Recent studies in laboratory animals provide evidence that stress can activate biological processes similar to those that lead to fever in infectious diseases. Treatment for this condition cannot be limited to antipyretics alone, it must include methods aimed at combating the main cause - stress.

T. Oka believes that the most important goal of this study is to try to convey to clinicians that fever, like many other pathologies, can indeed occur in response to stress, and the latter, in turn, often contributes to the development of pathological conditions. When treating psychogenic fever, the scientist recommends that doctors pay attention to cognitive-behavioral therapy, anxiolytics or other therapeutic approaches to reduce the impact of stress on the patient's body. He proposed to replace the term "psychogenic fever" with "functional hyperthermia", which will be unbiasedly perceived by specialists and indicate the presence of disorders in the functioning of the autonomic nervous system.

Julia Kotikovich

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In what cases is fever not an alarming symptom?

Standard options. The Voice of Cherepovets talked to Nadezhda Mazgaleva, general practitioner and infectious disease specialist at City Polyclinic No. 2, about body temperature and the factors that affect it. — Nadezhda Aleksandrovna, is it true that normal temperature for different people can be different and this is not necessary 36.6 degrees? - Yes, that's right. - Can someone have a normal temperature, say, 38 degrees? - No. The normal temperature is up to 37.2 degrees. There is also a subfebrile temperature - from 37.2 to 37.8 degrees (some experts consider subfebrile temperature from 37.1 to 38). This is not critical, but an elevated temperature that lasts for a long time and may indicate hidden inflammatory processes, infectious or other diseases. It turns out that the minimum subfebrile and maximum normal temperatures sometimes "intersect". If at the same time there is a feeling of heat, headache, sweating, then the temperature is definitely pathological. Also, subfebrile temperature can be with allergies. - And what is the lowest temperature that can be considered normal? - 36 degrees exactly. - That is, if a person has 35.4, is this already not the norm? - Not the norm. This is a low temperature, you need to check the thyroid gland. Also - not always, but in some cases - the cause of a low temperature can be overwork. - Why can the temperature rise in a person without an illness, say, up to 37.8 degrees? - Without an illness, the temperature will not rise to 37.8, only up to 37 ,2. The temperature may rise from excitement, but only slightly. A constant temperature of 37.2 is still typical for pregnant women. Also, in children (up to 12-14 years old on average), the temperature is always higher than in adults, because children have a faster metabolism. Even in the morning, only after waking up, a temperature of 37 - 37.1 for a child can be the norm. We repeat: excitement can raise the temperature, but not much and not for long. If you have, for example, 37.7 - this is not because of experiences, but because of something else. If you are warmly dressed and feel hot, or if you run and feel a surge of heat, this does not affect the body temperature, although subjectively it seems that it is elevated. The most faithful. Why is body temperature checked by placing a thermometer under the arm? — Many large vessels carrying blood pass through the armpit, which is why it is customary to measure the temperature there. — I have never watched live, but sometimes I saw in films how someone measures the temperature holding a thermometer in your mouth. Is this also the right way? - Correct, there are thermometers for the oral cavity. Not any thermometer will do, you need a special one. As far as I know, these are not sold in our city, but I have seen them in some patients. - Based on your practice, which thermometer is the most reliable - mercury, alcohol, electronic? - Mercury. If you hold it correctly - 7 - 10 minutes, it will show the most correct temperature. A constant fever in adults may indicate not only SARS or other infectious pathology. - In women, fever can be during pregnancy or during inflammation of the genital organs. The initial stage of an oncological disease, such as blood cancer, cancer of the rectum or stomach, also leads to an increase in temperature. And most often, a temperature above or below normal indicates problems with the thyroid gland. In some diseases of the thyroid gland, the metabolism increases significantly (and then the temperature will be higher than normal), in others it decreases (which, accordingly, leads to a decrease in temperature). Some people (most often schoolchildren who are eager to skip classes) try to artificially increase their temperature . Among the most famous and, apparently, the most common methods is the "ingestion" of iodine. Some advisers recommend dripping on bread and eating it, others recommend dissolving it in water and drinking it. The fact that the temperature will definitely rise after this is not yet a fact, but the chance to burn the mucous membranes and / or earn a stomach ulcer is more than real. Disadvantages. The accuracy of a conventional mercury thermometer is recognized by almost all experts - its error is 0.1, maximum 0.2 degrees. Another thing is that there is a risk of breaking it and freed mercury can bring a lot of problems if it is not quickly and completely removed in compliance with all the necessary rules. Relatively recently, thermometers have appeared where mercury is replaced by galinstan (galinstan is an alloy of gallium, indium and tin ). Their “stuffing” is safe, but there is another drawback: in order to bring down the temperature that has previously come up, such a thermometer must be shaken very hard and for a very long time. As for electronic thermometers, it is quite common to keep them longer than prescribed in the instructions. For example, the instructions say that the thermometer should be held for three minutes, but in reality it turns out that the temperature does not have time to "run" and to get the correct result, you need to hold it for another couple of minutes. Moreover, if the thermometer beeps, giving a signal that the measurement is over, such a signal cannot always be trusted. And in some devices there is an automatic shutdown, that is, even if you know that you need to hold it longer, you will not succeed. So, when purchasing an electronic thermometer, find out in advance if it has an automatic shutdown function. Non-contact (infrared) thermometers are also not always accurate. Some people note that non-contact thermometers show a slightly "lower" temperature. Someone explains this by improper use, someone by the influence of external factors. However, the errors, as a rule, are small and still make it possible to detect an elevated temperature. It is worth noting that the shortcomings described above are not mass phenomena, it cannot be said that such disadvantages are found in most products.

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