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, September 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-panic/morning-anxiety-anxiety-panic/2010/01/morning-anxiety-101-symptoms-and-causes
Author: Aimee White
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.
Also thanks Rochelle for sharing what works for you to relieve your morning anxiety. Showers are the best. I always take really long ones. I like to just "be" when I am in the shower. Having someone call you is a great distraction. I'll have to remember that one.
You are so right about being up late. I am writing this at 3:36 A.M. I used to wake up every morning in a panic, then it became waking up w depression. Sometimes it got so bad I didn't want to go to bed at night for fear of how I'd wake up in the morning. I discovered 2 things; keep an orange at my bedside so I had something to grab for to up my blood sugar; get in the shower no matter what. Somehow the warm water is very calming. However, I must admit that if I'm in a bad depression, getting myself into the shower can take a couple of hours. I am basically a night personl. My best thinking seems to start at 11 p.m., sometimes I think that part of the problem is being forced to live in a society that does not synch w my circadian rhythms. Also, once in the while I can calm myself down by asking myself "O.K., how much worse can this get?" Somehow that seems to ground me. The absolute best thing for me , however, is if I can get someone to call me about the time I wake up. Good Luck!
I take 100 mg of Zoloft every morning with my breakfast. I would be interested to hear what everyone else is taking. It seems to work well for me, but overall techniques such as positive affirmations or distractions work better for me.
I encourage you to read the follow up post to this one. It talks about how if you worry about the anxiety it will only make it worse. You should instead think of what actions you will take if it does come, so you can feel better prepared for it. Also, you need to learn how much power you have. You can handle the anxiety. Its not bigger than you. You just have to believe in yourself.
Thanks to everyone else for your comments! I hope these articles will help you.
The woman went from being terrified at night, to being terrified all the time. She even started straining the milk before breakfast because she was afraid there might be broken glass in it.
Do not be afraid of setbacks! Do not be afraid of that fear returning, it will do what it will. You need a strategy, and you need practice. This is not something you can move away from.
Memories of anxiety in the past will always stir up new fears -- it's only natural. I'll bet that revisiting that house or your old neighbors has the ability to bring back the scary feelings. But Dr. Claire Weekes simple strategy of accepting that ugly feeling really works!
It's normal to become depressed and feel hopeless when the anxiety persists for extended periods of time and does not show signs of letting up. You feel terminally ill, like there will never be relief. Dr. Weekes knows this process all too well. Use her advice on how to cope and accept it. Best of luck to you!