Severe morning anxiety

Tips for Coping with Morning Anxiety

Given the stress of living through a pandemic, moderate anxiety is common. Waking up in a panic every morning is more troubling, as it sets in before coping mechanisms can be deployed. Morning anxiety has a biological cause: Cortisol, often called the “stress hormone,” is higher during the first hour after waking for people experiencing stress. Sometimes people feel a measure of control when they worry, so they have trouble stopping the cycle.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Wake Forest University’s Master of Arts in Counseling program.

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Symptoms of and Myths About Anxiety

Many people conflate stress and anxiety, but they’re different. Webster’s defines anxiety as “being uneasy, apprehensive or worried about what may happen,” whereas stress is “mental or emotional tension or strain characterized by feelings of anxiety, fear, etc.” Stress can also be defined as not having the resources to complete a task, while anxiety is usually tied to a perceived threat, real or imagined. Stress may be alleviated by accomplishing the task, but anxiety sticks around, producing a host of physical and psychological symptoms.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Some of the symptoms commonly associated with anxiety are internally physical in nature, which can range from nausea and headache to rapid heart rate and tight chest. Other symptoms are outwardly physical, such as sweating, shaking or having difficulty breathing. There are also symptoms tied to behavioral or emotional tendencies, such as a sense of panic, difficulty concentrating, restlessness and diminished sex drives. Other potential symptoms are fatigue or problems sleeping.

Common Misconceptions About Anxiety

Unfortunately, there are several myths regarding anxiety and how it’s handled. Some prominent misconceptions include worrying is genetic and incurable, anxiety medication is addictive, using distractions or avoiding stressful situations can help minimize the threat of anxiety, and being around supportive people can cure anxiety.

Prevalence of Anxiety

Anxiety has been on the rise the last few years, as 32% of Americans say they’re more anxious than they were the year before. In 2019, two-thirds of Americans were worried about the safety of themselves and their families as well as their finances. Nearly two-thirds had anxiety about their health, and around half were worried about the effects of politics and had anxiety over various interpersonal relationships.

Ongoing anxiety can cause a variety of physical ailments, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), kidney and heart damage and arrhythmia. It can also exacerbate other conditions, such as depression, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, heart disease, stroke and chronic pain.

General Anxiety Disorder

While occasional worry is a part of life, frequent excessive anxiety about tasks or situations that most people don’t find threatening could be an indication of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Nearly 7 million adult Americans experience GAD annually, per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Studies also indicate GAD affects women about twice as often as it affects men. Additionally, people with serious or painful medical conditions or substance misuse problems are more likely to have anxiety disorders.

Everyday Anxiety vs. GAD

An individual experiencing everyday anxiety will spend time worrying about a specific event, assignment, or task. They’ll also have trouble sleeping or concentrating during stressful times, and they’ll experience physical aches and pains from specific situations.

An individual with GAD will experience ongoing general worry about vague, often imagined threats that interfere with daily life. They’ll also experience frequent trouble sleeping or concentrating and experience physical aches and pains for more than six months without a specific cause.

Tips for Reducing Morning Anxiety

If a racing heart or upset stomach greets you first thing in the morning, you can do a few things to help ease your everyday anxiety. For instance, you can engage in exercise, which increases endorphins, improves mental focus, and elevates mood. You can also practice meditation or mindfulness, which can improve ability to calm the mind and stop the cycle of anxious thoughts.

Another tip involves limiting stressors, such as waiting to check news or social media, using an alarm clock instead of a smartphone, or taking the time to self-care. Additionally, you can use tactics designed to exert a sense of control, such as daily planning or writing down and “fact-checking” nagging fears. Finally, resources like meditation apps or podcasts focused on decreasing feelings of isolation can be valuable.

Reaching Out Can Help

If anxiety is impacting your sleep, work, relationships or ability to focus, seek professional help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness connects people with professionals in their area. Call 800-950-NAMI or text “NAMI” to 741741. If anxiety is causing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).





Why Do I Feel Anxious When I Wake Up in the Morning?

Do you ever experience racing thoughts or anxiety in the morning before you even have a chance to hit snooze on your alarm? If you do, you’re not alone.

While some anxiety is considered a normal part of life, excessive worrying about daily tasks or situations that others see as nonthreatening may indicate an anxiety disorder.

Although not a medical term, morning anxiety refers to waking up with feelings of stress and worry. If you are dealing with excessive anxiety, worry, and stress in the morning, there’s a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive and uncontrolled worry that pervades daily life and occurs frequently for at least six months. People with GAD typically worry about everyday actives such as work, money, family, and health.

The symptoms of morning anxiety often mimic those of generalized anxiety disorder. If you are struggling with anxiety upon waking, you may be experiencing:

  • feeling restless, “on-edge,” or “wound up”
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • signs of a panic attack, such as tight chest,
    tense muscles, higher than normal heart rate, or difficulty breathing
  • difficulty concentrating and finding your mind
    goes blank
  • difficulty controlling the worry or nervousness

Morning anxiety can be caused by many factors that may also contribute to an anxiety disorder. Since morning anxiety is a reaction to excess stress and worries, there are several potential causes that may contribute to your symptoms.

The “stress hormone” cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress. Researchers have studied the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of stress in their lives. This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.

What you eat and drink first thing in the morning can also contribute to higher levels of anxiety in the early hours of the day. Caffeine and sugar can increase anxiety symptoms. But low blood sugar due to a lack of food can make anxiety symptoms worse.

If you go to bed worrying or wake up during the night with anxious thoughts, you are likely to feel anxious and concerned about your day in the morning.

Living with an anxiety disorder can feel like a never-ending cycle of worry. But it doesn’t have to take over your life. With the right treatment, you can learn ways to cope with your symptoms. Some of the more common ways to treat morning anxiety include:


Otherwise known as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy can help you understand how anxiety affects your life. Your therapist will also work with you to develop strategies that decrease the severity of your symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) looks at the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do. CBT teaches you new ways of thinking, acting, and reacting to situations that cause anxiety.


Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can help relieve the symptoms associated with anxiety.

Lifestyle changes

Many lifestyle changes can help you manage morning anxiety, including:

  • getting enough sleep
  • limiting alcohol and caffeine (both can trigger
    anxiety and panic attacks)
  • eating a healthy diet that limits processed food
    and sugar
  • reducing stress at work and home

There are also self-care strategies you can use right when you wake up feeling anxious. This includes:

Physical activity

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the morning, especially if you are dealing with an excessive amount of worry when you wake up. Any physical activity, such as taking a walk, can:

  • lift your mood
  • reduce anxiety symptoms
  • improve your body’s ability to handle stress
  • help you relax

Aim to exercise at least five days per week for 30–45 minutes each session.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation

The goal of meditation practice is to be aware, and to observe and notice thoughts, feelings, and body states without reacting to them or believing them to be true.

While it may take practice to get into a mindful state when you wake up in the morning, it can help to reduce anxiety symptoms.

Deep breathing exercises

Deep breathing done first thing in the morning can help take the focus off of your negative and anxious thoughts and turn your focus and energy toward your body.

Challenging negative thoughts

If you wake up with negative thoughts about your day (often called “awfulizing”) challenge them and focus on what you can control. You can keep a journal by your bed and write down what you are grateful for. It’s also a good idea to list at least three things you are looking forward to.

If you’re new to these techniques and you’re finding that managing morning anxiety is a lot harder than you thought, try setting a worry timer. Give yourself a time limit of 10 minutes to experience those feelings. When the timer goes off, move on to your self-care strategies. Though you can’t expect to simply “turn off” your anxiety, this approach allows you to acknowledge your worry and gives you a concrete point at which to move on to self-care.

Even though the symptoms of morning anxiety can feel overwhelming and permanent, they are highly treatable. When you combine professional treatment along with the self-care strategies listed above, you can experience relief from the racing thoughts and worry that invade your mind.

Unreasonable anxiety - why there is a constant state of anxiety

All people experience anxiety from time to time. For example, you can get nervous when you have a fight with a loved one or before taking an exam. Anxiety itself is not a very pleasant emotion, but it is completely normal.

Sometimes anxiety becomes persistent and uncontrollable. In situations where it interferes with everyday life, takes on a permanent or excessively acute character, the problem cannot be ignored. You should contact a specialist and figure out what anxiety means in your case. Perhaps you need qualified help. nine0003

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in modern society.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in modern society. Usually a person cannot understand what anxiety means, from which it is impossible to get rid of. The disease makes you feel scared and restless for no apparent reason. If left untreated, it becomes a long-term problem and significantly reduces the quality of life. At the same time, no matter what form of anxiety disorder the patient suffers from, an experienced specialist will always select a therapy that will help to cope with the disease. nine0003

What is the alarm

Common signs of anxiety disorders to look out for include:

  • Feeling nervous and uncontrollable restlessness that is not appropriate for the situation;
  • Unreasonable panic, premonition of catastrophe or death;
  • Increased activity of the autonomic nervous system: dizziness, sweating, trembling, rapid breathing, palpitations, pain in the heart, dry mouth, nausea, stool disturbance; nine0018
  • Sleep and appetite disorders;
  • Problems with concentration, inability to distract from the object of concern;
  • Anxiety, irritability;
  • Strong, uncontrollable feeling of fear in relation to ordinary situations (phobias).

Anxiety, whatever it may be, always has characteristic features and causes. The concept of "anxiety disorder" is general and corresponds to several diagnoses, each of which has its own characteristics. It is important to distinguish one from the other in order to correctly diagnose and choose the correct treatment. Experience and high qualifications will allow a specialist to do this without difficulty. nine0003

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mental illness characterized by so-called non-fixed anxiety. This is groundless anxiety, which does not depend on specific circumstances, but is persistent and uncontrollable. Physical manifestations in the form of vegetative symptoms are added to anxiety. All this greatly interferes with studying, working and communicating. Clinically significant is the presence of signs of GAD for 6 months.

A distinctive feature is the generalization of sensations: constant anxiety in GAD does not have a specific stressor, it is directed to life circumstances in general, including minor and unlikely situations. The course is permanent, the symptoms are always present, from time to time they intensify, but they never acquire an acute form, as in panic attacks. nine0003

The concept of "anxiety disorder" is general and corresponds to several diagnoses, each of which has its own characteristics.

Panic disorder (panic attacks) are abrupt episodes of panic and discomfort, which are accompanied by fear of death and physical manifestations: interruptions in the heart, feeling short of breath, dizziness.

Unlike GAD, panic attacks occur spontaneously and acutely. Patients are in constant expectation of an attack, they experience a debilitating feeling of anxiety. With GAD, a person is constantly in a state of anxiety, but it is not associated with the expectation of an attack, but with bad forebodings and fears about all kinds of life situations. nine0003

Panic attacks are also important to distinguish from phobic disorders. Attacks can be one of the signs of a phobia and speak of its severity. If there is a primary phobia, then it will be the main diagnosis.

This disorder should be differentiated from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), in which panic attacks can occur only when trying to suppress intrusive thoughts, and from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the latter case, anxiety occurs only under certain circumstances that remind the patient of the cause of the trauma. nine0003

People suffering from this disorder do their best to avoid frightening circumstances, which can impose significant restrictions on lifestyle.

Phobic disorder (phobias) are acute episodes of panic that are associated with specific situations and objects. People suffering from this disorder do their best to avoid frightening circumstances, which can impose significant restrictions on lifestyle. nine0003

Among the phobias, there are social phobia - an overwhelming fear of social interactions, and agoraphobia, which is a complex of similar fears associated with the fear of open and closed spaces. There are other isolated phobias, but a distinctive feature of this type is that the fear occurs in strictly defined situations and is limited only to them.

Anxious depression. The usual signs of an anxiety disorder are characterized by nervousness, irritability, problems with sleep and concentration. But, unlike other disorders, the depressive component is also mandatory - depressed mood, melancholy, lack of interest in life. In mixed anxiety and depressive disorder, the symptoms of anxiety and depression are present to an equal degree, without a clear predominance of one over the other, which does not allow them to be considered separately from each other. nine0003

Schizoaffective disorder is another disease in which mood disorders are observed: unreasonable anxiety, guilt, problems with concentration, irritability, and more. However, according to ICD-10, this diagnosis can only be confirmed when the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, such as delusions and hallucinations, are combined with affective disorders of a depressive or manic nature.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is obsessive ideas based on irrational thoughts and fears that force a person to perform certain actions - rituals (ritual behavior). nine0003

To alleviate concerns, a person can endlessly wash their hands, even if the skin on them becomes irritated and cracked.

Obsessions and compulsions greatly interfere with daily activities. If a person tries to ignore these thoughts, anxiety increases. Because of this, the patient is forced to continue to perform the ritual in order to relieve stress. OCD often centers around specific themes, such as the fear of germs. To alleviate concerns, a person can endlessly wash their hands, even if the skin on them becomes irritated and cracked. nine0003

Alarm causes. Diagnostics

The causes of anxiety disorders are varied, as are the types themselves. Usually, in the pathological state of unreasonable anxiety, the causes consist of a complex interaction of factors that may include:

  • genetic predisposition;
  • imbalance of neurotransmitters;
  • personality traits: people with a labile psyche, sensitive temperament, prone to negative emotions; nine0018
  • stressful situations, mental trauma, unfavorable living conditions, somatic diseases;
  • use of drugs, alcohol, improper medication.

Only a qualified psychiatrist can correctly identify the causes of anxiety and provide assistance. You can not delay seeking help, as the condition may worsen and be complicated by social isolation, suicidal actions and various types of addiction. nine0003

To conduct a complete diagnosis of the condition, the doctor uses the following methods:

  1. Psychiatric examination - a specialist collects a detailed anamnesis, takes into account clinical manifestations and compares them with diagnostic criteria.
  2. Pathopsychological research is a modern technique that helps to understand the personal characteristics and psychological state of the patient.
  3. Laboratory and instrumental examination - Neurotest and Neurophysiological test system allow you to get an objective idea of ​​the state of the nervous system and cognitive functions, EEG and other instrumental methods help to exclude organic pathology

Treatment of anxiety and anxiety disorders

Treatment depends on the type of disorder and may include one or a combination of the following approaches.

Individual psychotherapy is the main treatment for any type of disorder. Allows you to find out why anxiety has arisen and whether it is pathological. Clinical signs are analyzed and problems are worked out.

One of the effective methods for correcting anxiety disorders, especially phobic ones, OCD and GAD, has become cognitive behavioral therapy. With the help of modeling problem situations, the patient, under the guidance of a doctor, learns to cope with panic and acquires skills that allow him to return to a normal lifestyle. nine0003

Drug therapy to eliminate acute symptoms, relieve anxiety and depression, if necessary, mild pharmacotherapy with antidepressants or modern tranquilizers can be used.

As additional methods that accelerate adaptation and help to cope with stress, physiotherapy, breathing exercises, art therapy, biofeedback therapy are used.


When to seek immediate help: nine0003

  • When the condition interferes with work, relationships and other areas of life;
  • If the person cannot control their fear or intrusive thoughts;
  • If a person feels constantly depressed, disturbed in sleep and concentration, consumes large amounts of alcohol to cope with anxiety;
  • There are suicidal thoughts.

The symptoms of an anxiety disorder do not go away on their own. This is a serious problem that, without specialized help, progresses over time. To avoid this and return to a full life without painful fears, you need to contact a specialist. The sooner the patient starts therapy, the faster and easier it will be to get the result. nine0003

You wake up broken, and the alarm clock makes you sweat. Check yourself, it might be morning anxiety

If your stress level is already going through the roof in the morning; if, just waking up, you already feel incomprehensible anxiety - check yourself against this list. Experts explain the reasons and advise how to cope with anxiety.

Alla Rezyapova

Alexandra Gorn | Unsplash

It's okay to start the morning with anxiety every once in a while, licensed behavioral psychologist Rina B. Patel explains in a Huffpost article. An important presentation, a job interview, and even a nice date with a new partner can be troubling. But if your every morning begins with this feeling, it is worth understanding the reasons. Even if it's not a lot of anxiety, but only a slight feeling of being overwhelmed, experts recommend taking care of yourself. So, what are the causes of morning anxiety called by doctors? nine0003

Contents of the article

Increased cortisol levels

Cortisol levels in the blood are higher in the morning, and this is normal. Cortisol is injected into the bloodstream to help us wake up—but it can make us feel anxious. This happens when the morning rise in cortisol is superimposed on a general state of stress or overload: in this case, the level of cortisol in the blood is already high, and the morning surge creates an excessive peak, says sleep doctor Alex Dmitriu. nine0003

Incorrect sleep patterns

Monday mornings are the best times for cardiovascular disease to peak. An acute reaction to danger, "fight or flight", which makes our heart beat faster, usually releases the body during sleep. But if the level of background stress goes off scale, and every day becomes a new source of anxiety, then sleep does not give a long-awaited rest. And then the morning wake-up call can provoke a real panic attack and even cause a heart attack, which is not at all uncommon. nine0003

Mental health is the cause

Clinical psychologist Lyndon J. Aguiar explains that mental health can determine when you feel anxious. Social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder can cause morning anxiety, while generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD can cause evening anxiety. A patient who is struggling with addiction will feel extreme anxiety during the hours that he used to set aside for his addiction. nine0003

Of course, one should not engage in self-diagnosis - it is better to consult a psychiatrist to make a diagnosis.

The devil is in the details

In addition to these specific causes, the causes of morning anxiety can be: vivid dreams, obsessive nightmares, symptoms of PTSD, a life schedule, an off-scale stress level in general. Bad sleep, bad food, inability to cope with stress - and your mornings turn into a nightmare.

How to deal with morning anxiety? nine0013

If you wake up with a feeling of anxiety, you have "sucking in the stomach", if you have panic attacks in the morning, start by contacting a psychiatrist (or a psychotherapist; in Russia, a competent neurologist can sometimes help). These morning occurrences can seriously affect the quality of life and the ability to make decisions.