Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/27/2022
Have you ever felt cold chills go through your body leading up to a stressful event? Maybe it was before a big work presentation or when you found yourself in a nerve-wracking situation. Shivering or feeling chilly all of a sudden can be frustrating, so you may want to know how to stop anxiety chills and deal with anxiety symptoms.
Maybe you’re experiencing chills and shaking, but you don’t have a fever or feel any other signs of illness like the flu. So why are you feeling chills if you’re not actually sick?
The cause of these body chills or shivering could be a symptom of an anxiety disorder.
This guide will explain what this symptom is and how to stop anxiety chills so you can get on with your life.
Before we go over how to stop anxiety chills, let’s talk about what anxiety is, the effects of anxiety and why you might be experiencing anxiety chills.
Anxiety is a relatively normal reaction to stress — whether from dealing with problems at work, making a big decision or even everyday interactions like driving. You might feel scared, worried or anxious when you’re stressed.
When we’re under stress, our bodies release stress hormones that activate our fight-or-flight response. The reaction helps you survive by making you more aware or giving you a boost of energy.
When you’re anxious, you may feel tense, sweat more than usual and feel your heartbeat quicken — which is how the body reacts to stress.
When anxiety levels are constantly high, though, you’re probably dealing with chronic anxiety — long-term stress and anxiety are also known as anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that affect how you think, feel, behave and respond to daily activities. There are different types of anxiety disorders, including:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Social anxiety disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
These mental health disorders can have a variety of symptoms, depending on the type of anxiety disorder. For example, people with panic disorder experiencepanic attacks — a sudden and intense feeling of fear or anxiety with no clear trigger.
Some symptoms of anxiety disorders occur more often than others, though. Common symptoms of anxiety can include both psychological and physical effects, such as:
Focusing only on current worries or concerns
Insomnia or trouble sleeping
Feeling nervous or restless
Avoiding people or situations that may cause anxiety
Low energy or fatigue
Muscle aches or tense muscles
Stomach pain, upset stomach or other gastrointestinal issues (cramps, diarrhea and/or constipation)
Rapid heart rate
Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
The effects of anxiety aren’t just in our heads — physical symptoms of anxiety can be just as overwhelming. If you find yourself feeling body chills, the cause could very well be anxiety.
But why do we feel chilly seemingly all of a sudden? You may be wondering why this particular symptom happens and how to stop chills from anxiety.
Anxiety chills are a sudden shivering sensation throughout the body. We all experience anxiety differently, and some may experience more physical symptoms than others.
The physical symptoms we experience from anxiety are a result of the fight-or-flight response — also known as the autonomic nervous system.
When you’re under stress, your brain thinks you’re in danger and prepares to fight or run away. This active stress response can have many physical effects on the body — from muscle tension to increased heart rate to irregular heartbeat.
When our body goes into fight-or-flight mode, it can increase body temperature, an effect known as a psychogenic fever. Overheating, however, can make running away more difficult, so your body sweats to stay cool.
This way of keeping your body temperature cool can make you shiver — an involuntary response you can’t control because your muscles contract and relax to regulate your core temperature.
When you’re anxious, your body’s regulation of internal temperature can also prevent and promote heat loss at the same time, resulting in chills, sweating or shivering.
While acute stress — such as temporary stress from braking too quickly while driving or trying to meet deadlines — goes away quickly, chronic stress can have longer effects.
Those experiencing short-term stress might have anxiety chills that go away, while people with chronic anxiety may experience shivering and chills more often.
People with panic disorder or phobias (another type of anxiety disorder) may also experience anxiety chills more often. Panic attacks, for example, are a characterization of both panic disorder and agoraphobia, a type of phobia. Sweating and chills are two common symptoms of panic attacks.
Whether you’re experiencing anxiety chills periodically or frequently, this anxiety symptom can be frustrating. Keep reading to learn how to stop chills from anxiety.
Learning how to manage the physical symptoms of anxiety — including anxiety chills — can improve your quality of life. There are several methods for reducing anxiety symptoms, from pharmacological options to psychotherapy to lifestyle changes.
Pharmacological options for anxiety include medications such as antidepressants, beta-blockers or benzodiazepines.
Beta-blockers like propranolol are often used for immediate relief from performance anxiety, while antidepressant medication may be prescribed to help improve your mood.
Just as everyone experiences different anxiety symptoms, everyone responds to medication differently. Discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider first to see if medication is a good treatment option for you.
Therapy for anxiety is a highly effective method for managing symptoms. One of the most research-supported treatments for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help you identify unhelpful thought patterns and learn healthy ones instead.
There are many other types of therapy for anxiety. Try browsing our online mental health services to figure out which type you’ll benefit from most.
Certain lifestyle changes won’t fully treat anxiety but can help reduce anxiety symptoms. Learning to be present rather than focusing on what’s causing your anxiety is the practice of being mindful.
Mindfulness practices like yoga and deep breathing exercises are proven methods to reduce stress and anxious feelings.
If you’re prone to anxiety or chronic stress, you might experience anxiety chills from time to time. Anxiety can result in various physical symptoms, the effects of your body’s fight-or-flight response to keep you safe from danger.
Involuntary shivers are your body’s way of managing its internal temperature after your body temperature increases to help you fight or run away from “danger” — or in most cases, whatever is causing you stress and anxiety.
You might be wondering how to stop anxiety chills. The best way is to treat the underlying anxiety causing these chills through therapy, mindfulness or medication.
An online licensed psychiatrist can help you figure out the best treatment plan for your condition and symptoms. Connect with a mental health professional today.