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
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
- 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. 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 feeling 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).
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 for Morning Anxiety 101: 5 Useful Tips.
White, A. (2010, January 25). Morning Anxiety 101: Symptoms and Causes, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-panic/morning-anxiety-anxiety-panic/2010/01/morning-anxiety-101-symptoms-and-causes
Author: Aimee White
My partner is understanding but I see how he struggles with me. Just please be there for her. Calm her the best you can, fresh air and let her talk to you about it, even if it makes no sense. I have to cry so much, then when I'm done crying... I feel a sense of relief
I've found that Niacin helps to dampen the adrenaline. It does cause a flush which bothers some. For me, it is a good distraction.
I might consider low dose beta blockers before benzos. Everyone is different.
Then I did something that changed my life. I got my nutritional deficiencies tested. I'd been told by people for 10 plus years to look into it, but I kept thinking *I have genuine anxiety- genuine problems. Not just some silly nutritional deficiency*. I would get really defensive. But eventually, I felt that I couldn't handle the suffering anymore, so I looked into it. I was willing to try ANYTHING.
I was low in everything. Vitamin C. B12. If you could name it, I didn't have it. So I started a regime of vitamins and minerals. I take 15 plus vitamins everyday with the guidance of my GP. Within five days, I knew I had found my cure. I used to be on lorezapam, seroquel, and adderrall (diagnosed with ADHD, insomnia, anxiety). There were days when I would be eying the clock... waiting for my next tranquilizer.
It's seven months later, and now I take half of my 5mg of adderall (down from 25mg), and only on weekdays. Again, with the guidance of my GP, I slowly came off everything else. I sleep at night. I don't use an alarm clock. Many days, I will look up and realize- oh my goodness- it's 7pm and I've left work to go to the pub with friends. I didn't even think about going- I just went. If you have anxiety, you know how thrilling that realization is.
I cried in my doctor's office the day she apologized to me. The day she told me that the last 27 years of hell were seemingly caused by *nothing more* than malabsorption of vitamins.
This may not be the answer for you. But I feel like a 'born again' lol. And I have become utterly obnoxious in my desire to tell other people about my story. The beautiful part about suffering with anxiety for SO long, is that you truly appreciate each and everyday that you are able (With ease), to participate in the world.
I was on Paxil for a few years, and while that helped a little, it did not address the underlying anxiety, and in fact, I decided to come off of it a few months ago, because for the first time in my life I developed clinical depression along with the anxiety. That's when I knew meds alone weren't the answer.
I started seeing a therapist more regularly and going to DBT groups (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) which are helping *tremendously*. I only wished I had known about DBT years ago. But better late than never...
I am hoping to not have to go back on any more meds, as the 2-3 kinds I was put on over the years had side-effects that were not worth it for me, and coming off the drugs was a process too. I know for many people, medication is absolutely necessary and a life-saver even, but I'm not sure my own bouts of anxiety and depression are severe and/or uncommon enough for serious brain-altering drugs with a long list of side-effects. I wished it were as simple as that, but after a few years of trying to find the answer in a pill, I've realized it's not-- at least not in my case.
I will still take the ocassional tranquilizer in special situations, but need to stay away from the SSRI's & other regular meds for now and learn to instead rely on DBT skills, breathing techniques, meditation, and healthy habits and supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids (which is great for dealing with stress, anxiety & depression.)
Thank you all for posting here. This is a great topic...
Hoping we all get better soon. God bless.
In 2008 I was suffering from the same symptoms. My doctor checked my EKG report and sent me directly through the emergency doors of a nearest hospital. Within 2 days I had triple bypass heart surgery. A year later, I started having similar symptoms. My cardiologist rushed me to the same hospital for angioplasty to insert a stent in my artery.
If you continue to feel the above symptoms, please have an EKG done just to be sure your heart and arteries are OK.
I think this site is so beneficial as the more people know that they are not alone suffering from Anxiety, the less frightening it becomes.
Thank you for all advice. When it's bad you try anything!
What a wonderful service you provide by creating a safe space for those with anxiety can talk freely about it. Anxiety is something that is so painful, and becomes even more painful when we push it under the rug like we do in our society and pretend it isn't happening.
People vary and what works for one person often doesn't work for others. I believe in trial and error, a day (or a second as the case may be) at a time, and letting experience guide your way through this.
When people want professional help for it. it is really helpful to go in prepared to talk clearly about your situation. you can go to www.the-first-step.com and download a free appointment preparation worksheet to help you articulate clearly what's going on with you. i have developed a series of worksheets (and don't want to sound hype-y or sales-y here) and yet want to offer my services to readers who want to make informed healthcare choices with dedicated providers. you can find out more at www.the-first-step.com as well.
i have suffered with depression, anxiety and a host of other things- my worksheets are a result of many years of screwed up communications with healthcare providers where my needs weren't being appropriately addressed - in part because i didn't speak the same language as my healthcare providers.
i hope in some way this may help you and your readers find more tools to improve their well being.
YES! This is why I am googling this topic right now. I have had anxiety and panic attacks but mine were more at night and not so much in the morning and have subsided the last couple of months thank goodness. But I am often startled awake by my alarm clock and even mentioned it to my doctor. I'm doing Keto now and checking my blood glucose with a glucometer upon waking (while still in bed) and just this week noticed that my glucose is higher (by just a few mmol) when I wake up than when I went to bed! I was like WTF!?! Usually after daytime fasting for 12 hours, my glucose is around 72-75 but I'm waking up with it at 95! I know that adrenaline/cortisol spikes your glucose so I really think it's because of the damn alarm clock scaring the crap out of me and my adrenals are shooting out adrenaline. When that alarm goes off sometimes the feeling is like when you narrowly avoid having a traffic accident and your heart is pounding. I'll usually try to lay there for a few minutes and calm my heart rate down using deep slow breathing and reminding myself it's just the clock. I am going to test my glucose in the morning (Saturday) when I can sleep in with no alarm and see if my glucose is lower/normal fasting levels. Then I'll know it's from the clock. In that case, I'm going to try to find a different alarm that sounds more soothing and gradual.
I really think it's important that we get enough sleep (at least 5 or 6 1.5 hour sleep cycles) and/or go to bed early enough so that we can be awake without that alarm clock. I'm a hard-core night owl so this will not be easy for me but I've just been trying to take it one day at a time. I'm now getting to the point of being able to get in bed by about half past midnight which is way better than my typical 1-2am. It was getting to be closer to 3 am when I was having anxiety because I was afraid to get in bed for fear of triggering an attack. But anyway, yes, we need to get more sleep, meditate, breathe with diaphram throughout the day to lower cortisol, and no caffeine or spicy or high-fiber foods in the evening.
I had other issues as well. I was very, very sick and nobody knew why. I am still not at work. I am much better, but still have panic issues when I think or see my work. My doctor thinks I need more time and I agreed. My depression is much better but still not my same old self.
Yoga definitely helped me. The insurance company denied my claim for long term. They feel that since I can do yoga, go for walks, I can go to work and work on my problems. I have talked to a psychiatrist and counselors who say otherwise. I am glad I found this website so I don't feel like I am not alone. I am on a high dosage of effexor 300mg. It made quite a difference, but I thought I would be back to normal self by now. I just learn to take it one step at a time.
I have suffered from panic attacks for over 20 years. The best drug I have found with the least side effects has been amitriptyline. This works to prevent the panic attack from occuring. I also take alprazolam for panic breakthroughs. This tactic leaves me feeling a little more in control. Yoga is also good for hormonal balance, and works best for me at around 6pm as I am a night owl. I feel able to go to bed around 3 or 4 am, and a Tigger clock the goes off with a "hoo, hoo, hoo, are you ready for some bouncin'" instead of the heart jarring ring. I still have some bad days, but they are getting fewer and farther between. If you need some one to talk to, I am available at 719-924-5557. Hope this helps.
Thanks for all of your tips. You are such a sweetheart to open yourself up so much to strangers. Thanks for being so supportive. You rock!
Suppressing the anxiety will only make it worse. You can take medication to help with the anxiety, but you have to learn that to accept your anxiety as a part of who you are. When you stop fighting it and learn to roll with it, it will start to get better.
Hope that helps!
You are in a sensitized state right now. Any thoughts, physical symptoms, and fears you have are going to feel very intense and magnified -- overwhelming even.
Look up Dr. Claire Weekes on YouTube. She explains how a hypersensitive mindset (caused by stress or personality type) magnifies scary feelings, this leads to mental confusion (like a brain fog).
Dr. Weekes calls this 'bewilderment'. It can feel like deja Vu, or feelings of unreality "this isn't really happening", or feeling 'not like yourself'. Bewilderment is followed by fear, then increased sensitization, and the cycle starts again.
When I'm feeling anxious, yes even the thought of a shower is scary, the thought of exercising is ruined by fears of chest pain, taking a tranquilizer or even a vitamin is an exercise in fear and self-doubt. If you are exhausted, a short-term medication will help you get some rest and allow you to catch your breath so that you can better deal with anxiety by using acceptance techniques such as those taught be Dr. Weekes.