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Morning Anxiety 101: Symptoms and Causes

I am not a morning person. If you are reading this, chances are, you aren’t one either. Sometimes, I have been woken up in the early hours to instant panic. There isn’t a reason for the fear but as soon as my eyelids open I am absolutely terrified. Its a horrible feeling. When my day begins this way one of two things are bound to happen.

Either I accept the anxiety and try to ignore it, or I feel sorry for myself, pout, and sometimes cry, and it consumes and ruins my entire day.

My anxiety is always worse in the mornings. Always. Sometimes I find myself dreading to go to sleep at night for fear of what the morning will bring. I have learned not to plan important events or parties until the afternoon or evenings because I know I will be in a better mood at that time.

Symptoms of Morning Anxiety

My anxiety is always worse in the mornings. Learn how cortisol, low blood sugar, and your environment can cause mornings to be filled with anxiety.Most people experience several of the following symptoms when feeling anxious:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Nervousness, sense of terror, of impending doom or death
  • Feeling sweaty or having chills
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Trembling
  • Mental confusion

Causes for Morning Anxiety

Cortisol- the Stress Hormone

When we are feeling stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol levels are naturally at their highest in the morning and lowest at night.Β  Our bodies will also produce cortisol when we are feeling anxious to help with the “fight or flight” response.

It becomes a vicious cycle. We wake up feelingΒ anxious because of the stored up cortisol throughout the night, which makes us feel anxious, so our bodies continue to pump out cortisol, which creates more anxiety, which produces more cortisol, which causes us to feel more anxious, etc.

Low Blood Sugar

Deanne Repich, founder of the National Institute of Anxiety and Stress, Inc. says,

“Another reason why symptoms can be worse in the morning is because your blood sugar is low when you first wake up. You have gone all night without food. It’s important to maintain a constant blood sugar level because the brain uses sugar, also known as glucose, as its fuel. If blood sugar levels are too low or drop too fast, then the brain starts running out of fuel.”

Running out of fuel causes the brain to trigger the “fight or flight” response which we just learned will send cortisol through our bodies to help fight or flee the perceived threat (which in this case is low fuel).

Environmental Aggravations

Although these may not be the root of your morning anxiety, your bedroom surroundings can aggravate an already bad situation. Imagine sleeping in a dark room, in an uncomfortable bed and then suddenly a noisy, loud alarm clock scares you into reality. Soon harsh bright lights and the chill of getting out of bed welcome you to your worst day ever (Infuse Positive Energy into Your Home).

There are simple things we can do to help eliminate morning anxiety. Read on forΒ Morning Anxiety 101: 5 Useful Tips.

109 thoughts on “Morning Anxiety 101: Symptoms and Causes”

  1. I recently had major back surgery. Never ever have I had panic or anxiety attacks. Three weeks after surgery all of a sudden I wake up without fail having an attack. I have kids and a husband as well. My kids say I’m no fun anymore and my husband says this is not the person he married. I literally cry out of no where, my mind starts thinking I can’t live the rest of my life like this and I feel as I rather be dead then love like this. I’m scared to go to sleep knowing when I wake up I’m going to have an attack. My doctor gave me buzbarz and Klonopin. Buzbars take forever the Clonopin after ten mins I calm down but then they make me very sleepy. It’s weird cause at around 1 or 2 pm and rest of the night I’m ok. Now when we go out to eat I tend to start having them towards the end. I’m going freaking nuts. I’m only 37 years old and I feel as my life is crashing down on me.

    1. Hi Autumn,
      I’m sorry to read of what you’re going through right now. Because this started after surgery, there is very likely a direct correlation that is worth talking to a doctor about. Is your current doctor responsive and willing to discuss your new anxiety and symptoms give your surgery? If not, it’s okay to seek treatment from a different doctor. While you’re straightening out the medical aspects, you might consider seeing a therapist to talk about your experience, the way your family is acting with you, and things you can do to overcome this. It is possible to overcome this new anxiety, and it will be much easier with the right support and medical care.

  2. I have suffered from anxiety/depression for over 10 years. I’m 27. Had a long life with PTSD. I have a 2 yr old boy and a 3 month old girl. SSRIs made me go completely suicidal and made my teeth grinding a lot worse. I wake up every morning and cry because I feel like a failure and like I don’t know who I am anymore, I pray, cry, rock. I feel better when the day is done but mornings are my worst fear! Pain has punched me over the edge from a car accident that almost killed me 4 years ago and my doctor cannot prescribe my pain medication along with anxiety meds, and I cant function without pain meds at all. But the anxiety is no joke, it makes pain worse and turns into depression. SI try to take care of myself and take supplements but becoming depressed makes me stop caring for myself. I’m seeing a counselor, using CBT techniques. I pray that all of you find peace and happiness. The struggle is real and I have been crying as I scroll and read all of your comments, I don’t feel so alone. Thank you all for sharing!

  3. I had extreme anxiety/depression every morning to the point where I was nauseous…it would start wearing off around noon or so and by night time I would be okay, but dread the next morning. This went on for about a year and I was beginning to wonder if it would ever get better. I tried a few antidepressants that didn’t do much, and then my doctor had me try Remeron (Mirtazapine). When I woke up the next morning, I was totally fine for the first time in a LONG time. I know medications don’t work the same for everyone, and my issue may have been different from others here, but thought I’d share since it helped me. The medication + therapy solved for me in the long term. I weaned off the medication after a year or so and have been much better since.

  4. It’s a real comfort to know I’m not alone. It’s also comforting to know there is a reason why I “freak out” every morning .

    I suffered with this for a year or two when I was in my 30’s. It only lasted a few minutes each morning and went away when I got busy with the day.

    Now I’m in my 50’s and it’s starting again. This morning I went for a brisk 15 minute walk as soon as I work up. My mind was still trying to go to dark/negative thoughts but I prayed through it. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! I feel much better. …it’s a start πŸ™‚


  5. I wake with mirning anxiety formthe last fournyears, ssri and snri and tricyclics havent helped.. i amonlynusing diazepam and wonder if it it contributing to the levels.

  6. Please be careful about accepting medication from a Dr especially benzodiazepines. Intially it will appear to work but after tolerance which can happen very quickly , your anxiety will actually increase.

    1. benzos are different for everyone and in my case they work i have been taking 1mg for 3 months now with no problems my pharmasist told me that i may be one of those people that only need 1mg a day so you might need to talk to your doctor about a higher dose or different med or just dont take anything, i have tryed ssri and snri and cant take them lorazapam is the only thing that works,

      1. I lost my mother to Alzheimers two weeks ago. She died in my home with me by her side. It bothered me so much even though she is out of her pain. I started having anxiety attacks right away and went to doctor, he prescribed me 20mg antidepressant but it is taking awhile to work Just wondering if it ever will. He would not prescribed benz. Every morning I wake up shaking and nervous. It goes away a little during the day but picks back up at night. The day used to go by fast and now it goes so slow. Maybe 1mg of the lorazepam would have worked for me until the antidepressant kicked in?

  7. Please someone help me!!! I cant do this anymore!! Its been weeks. Weeks of waking up and freaking out for hours. I am 36 and have already watched my body fail me, now every morning I wake up feeling like my mind is next. I have become a horrible wife and mother. I live for my family! If I cant be good at caring for them then I just want to die!! I am so scared.

    1. Hi Kate,

      Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to what you are experiencing. Likely you will need both a psychiatrist and a psychologist to help you. Seek these people out through your family doctor.

      You can get better.

      – Natasha Tracy

      1. Depression/Anxiety has an inflammatory basis to the illness linked to chronic stress. Try apple cider vinegar & eat foods that have anti inflammatory properties. It is not simply a mental illness, but rather symptoms of the mind are one component. Exercise, diet, supportive loving conversations, spirituality, breathing, meditation, positive affirmations will all help.

        Just say to yourself:

        I know it’s scary what I’m going through right now but I must remember that this is only temporary, it WILL pass and I AM going to be alright. I am going to breathe in and out…in and out. I AM going to be alright. X

    2. Kate, I just want you to know you’re not alone. My anxiety is so bad, I can’t even leave my house sometimes. I am even on medication. I also have a child and husband and feel like the worst mother in the world. I too want to die, but I can’t do that to my daughter.Definately go to a psychiatrist if u can. I am without insurance for the first time in my life so I can’t afford to. Good luck!

      1. I have fought panck attacks and severe depression for years. *t gets better. Relax, breath and constantly talk yo yourself anf br extremely positive. I wad angoraphobic your mind is a strong tool. It can play tricks on you. I know ive been there. Its extremely scary.

    3. Kate, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I know how horrible it is. My comment below is directed at the people suggesting that it is a psych issue. Please read the article again. It is physiological root problem.
      Did anyone read the article?? This is a physiological issue, not a psychological one!

      You may have an adrenal/cortisol/endocrine problem or metabolic/blood sugar issue, or many other medical /med issues that manifest in this way. Yes, stress makes it much worse, but psych meds do not address the underlying or root cause and may make it worse. This is a common symptom of medication changes and withdrawal in people who never had anxiety before. Once the fight-flight-freeze goes into overdrive, the underlying cause must be addressed.

      A psychologist or counselor may help to deal with the symptoms or cause of stress.

      I wish you and everyone the best.

    4. You are not alone! We have to push through, just like when we get a bad cold this too will take time to heal. Do not give up, reach out for help. Talk about your thoughts to a friend or family member that you trust. Hang in there, remember you are not alone.

    5. Kate, I know the feeling SO MUCH, I’m having an attack as I am typing this. But, join Anxietycentre.com. You will be glad you did!!!!! I’ve learned so much about anxiety through them with over 900 pages that educate, help calm down the body. They have therapists who overcame anxiety themselves! Wish you the very best!!

      1. I agree with Caretta. You must address the UNDERLYING CAUSE of the anxiety!! Working with a trained therapist, and being medically checked out to rule out physical reasons is crucial!!

    6. Kate did you have anxiety before? I did not and one panic attack followed by several more and now I have anxiety. I too live for my family but now I can barely even function and cry all the time. You are not alone.

    7. I’m so sorry. I am going thru it also right now. Have gastro issues and have been in pain. No one can find anything which is what triggered mine. Night time is the best but as soon as I wake up in the morning it’s hell. I have to take .05 klonopin x 2 just to get some relief. Then the anxiety triggers depression. Help!!!

    8. I have the same. I don’t have the means to see a psychologist and I cannot take ssri’s. I’m trying to work through this on my own. Some days I wake up shaking and I’m nauseous. It feels like a bear is chasing me for hours. I only feel better close to nighttime. I go through spells and I’m in a bad one.

    9. Felt like you. I thought I was going crazy. Listen to meditations. Mindfulness app helped me. Listen to Dr Richard Mendius. It’s also on Youtibe. Explains what is going on in our brain. Helped me immensely. In a couple days you will feel better. Also Qi-gong breathing. Breath in thru nose out they mouth making “ma-ma-ma sound. Sound silly but works

    10. I don’t know you but I’m sure your a great person and judging off your comment your a great mother/wife don’t let anxiety get in the way.i know that’s easier said than done but I’ve been getting anxiety ever since I was 7 I had fears of death and when my parents got divorced it tuned into just regular anxiety at one point it stopped and about 7 years later I’m 16 with a kid on the way and I just got it back out of nowhere a couple months ago and it was bad.the best thing to do is accept it though don’t be scared don’t try to avoid it.you can only face your fears by accepting them.i can already tell your simliar to me. It sounds to me like your fear is that your anxiety will not only mess with your own life it will mess with your families too.(correct me if I’m wrong).if that is how your feeling welcome to the clubπŸ˜‚.it’s really scary especially with a kid to look after.now like I stated before the best thing you can do is just try to accept it. Just kinda sit there and whenever it’s messing with you what I did was I sat down and I focused just on my anxiety I blocked everything else out and I just sat there and expierienced it trying my best not to panic.i can assure you this helped significantly after a few days.another thing that I had tried was CBD oil and it worked almost instantly it’s great it contains no pyschoactives so you don’t get high it has nothing bad about it.however this is something that a lot of people would disagree with idk if your one but if you would like to know more about it you can either contact me or just look it up I’d be happy to help I hope you find everything you need.

    11. I am in the same shoes and please know you are not alone, I am currently typing this as I cry during an anxiety attack. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone: I wake up every morning and throw up. I also have ibs, which goes hand in hand with anxiety. I am on larazopam and I honestly wish I could say it was working. I feel awful, I don’t know how I am even going to manage getting my son to school in the mornings whole feeling this way. This is so unfair and I feel like it’s cheating everyone I love too.

    12. Hey I just want you to know I’m going thru the same thing. My life is super overwhelming right now. I’m going they a divorce. N i live for my child n husband as well. I’m on medication n have been thru tons of different therapys. N it does work but I have a massive amount of stressors in my life right now custody n some physical health problems. Once my stress goes down usually the waking up like this starts to fade. I feel ur pain though. Ur not alone

  8. I have been dealing with the the morning anxiety symptoms as well for at least six months. I also have muscle spasms in my eyes and the side of my head. I feel like I just can’t relax and the muscles in my head tighten and cause these spasms. Does anybody else get these and how do I get rid of them? My mind is always racing about what ifs and I can’t stop it? I need help!

  9. Right now I have just woken up with the worst morning panic. I have been dealing with this for a year, and I am even on medication. If anyone has had this, how did you get rid of it. I am exhausted from this.. My day doesn’t get good until after 6pm. Please leave a reply if you have an answer to get over this. I am ready to giive up.

    1. Just know you are not alone. I wake up like that every morning too. Getting ready for work is horrible. When it’s really bad, I pray consistently. Like a mantra. I am on medication too. I tell myself this is not real. There is no reason to panic. I can do this. I’ll be praying for you.

  10. IM Crying bc reading this article made me feel I’m not alone, I have extremely morning anxiety, I’m having it now as I write , and never though it’s something more than me. I have struggled with this terrible feeling for so long. Is there something that makes it better ?

    1. My morning anxiety came in me suddenly, I’d always woken calmly. After doing some research into cortisol etc I decided to buy a Philips wake up light, it gently wakes me with a simulated sunrise….my anxiety disappeared. I have a very early 4:45 wake up time, being woken calmly has made a huge difference. I also use the lights sunset mode when settling down which simulates a sunset and helps me become sleepy. Lumie do a much cheaper version of the Philips light…I can’t recommend it enough.

    2. I’m with you too. I have horrible anxiety in the morning. Wish I could do something to make it dissappear. It does help to know I’m not the only one.

    3. I’ve had anxiety for see

      I’ve had severe anxiety for 33 yes,

      I’ve had extreme anxiety for 33 yrs. I’ve recently been diagnosed by my dentist with some issues.ba scalloped tongue and some gum erosion above 2
      2 upper 2 lower. He said it’s from grinding my teeth and asked if I snored or ever stopped n

      Breathing at night.v
      . My
      Y husband told me he heard me grinding my teeth and I’ve had dreams in which I can’t breathe and gasp for air. Had a home sleep study which revealed I stop n
      Breathing 14 time a

      Several times a minute. My tongue is scalloped from pushing it against my teeth. My morning anxiety is so bad I can’t breathe or move. Because I have sleep apnea the body fights to breathe and adrenalin increases. Many people wear a CPAP device to help with this. The dentist is having a special appliance made to wearcat night. Expensive. He feels the grinding and sleep apnea contribute to morning anxiety and so do I. It makes sense. Feel out there all day with unending anxiety. Zoloft is not helping. I’m a nurse and can’t wait to get the appliance which will open my airway and keep me from grinding. Please make sure you don’t grinding or have sleep apnea. The morning anxiety makes you feel as though you’re dying. I also have burning mouth/tongue syndrome. Good grief it’s all a torture test with a hip replacement gone wrong and back pain. Just shoot me. Praying this oral appliance will help. I thank the Lord my dentist discovered this. This causes increased cortisol and anxiety. Be blessed. God is good. Make sure you don’t grinding your teeth or have sleep apnea. Be blessed. Jesus is Lord!!!!!


      1. I’m very glad that you got to the root cause. I hope that your appliance helps.

        I wanted to mention that Zoloft CAUSED sleep bruxism/tooth grinding in me. It is a listed side effect of SSRIs due to their disruption of Dopamine. It is classified as a movement disorder.

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