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Can Anxiety Cause Involuntary Muscle Movements?

Involuntary muscle movements are abnormal movements of the muscle characterized by jerking, shaking, or uncoordinated motions of nerve origin.1 These movements are sudden and quick in nature. They may end in a few minutes, hours, days, months or years. They can affect any muscle of the body like head, eyes, mouth, shoulders, chest, abdomen, hands, etc. The causes of such movements are dehydration, stress, anxiety, exertion, and some systemic illness. They develop in people who are 40-60 to 70 years old. However, in the juvenile form of nerve diseases, involuntary movements of muscle may develop in the age below 20 years.

Can Anxiety Cause Involuntary Muscle Movements?

Involuntary muscle movements develop in people under 40 years of age and may not appear after 60-70 years.2 They are represented by twitching of muscles during rest or sleep that may stop when you wake up. They involve any muscle or group of muscles in the body. They affect the head, eyes, mouth, face, neck, shoulders, back, chest, abdomen, bowels, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, etc.

Involuntary movements get worse with stress and are often relieved when stress is over. They are aggravated by high levels of anxiety. Stress-response stimulation is triggered by high levels of anxiety. Anxiety stimulates fight or flight response and increases stress hormone levels. It causes pain, weakness, tingling along with the twitching of muscles. When we are in a state of stress or anxiety, and then the nervous system works too fast and release too many nerve impulses. These nerve impulses are meant to control muscles. The erratic release of nerve impulses causes the muscles to twitch involuntarily. This may cause muscle spasms and cramps. This continues until the anxiety stops. The twitching of muscle reduces and disappears eventually. It may take some time after the anxiety is resolved.

Anxiety causes muscle spasms. It is triggered by following-

Muscle Tension– anxiety can trigger muscle tension that may lead to cramps and contractions in the muscles. It exhausts the body similar to exercises as it causes tiring of the muscles.

Adrenaline Rushes– anxiety induces increased secretion of adrenaline. It excites the nervous system that leads to activation of fight and flight response. This causes restlessness of the muscles leading to cramps and spasms. This results in uncontrollable involuntary muscle movements.

Inactivity– people in their anxiety state feel drained, less active and less energetic. Anxiety depletes nutrient and energy sources in the muscles that may cause muscle contractions. This results in involuntary muscle movements.

Dehydration – loss of water from the body can cause muscle contractions. This can be induced by anxiety. A fight-flight response in the body needs more and more water to overcome the situation that causes sweating and urination. This leads to a lack of enough water in the body.

The recovery process can be speeded up if anxiety is controlled fast. Anxiety can be reduced remarkably by following points-

  • Practicing breathing exercises
  • Increasing rest and relaxation
  • Avoiding the situations of stress and anxiety
  • Practicing yoga
  • Performing regular exercises

Involuntary muscle movements are the movements of the body muscles that appear in an uncontrolled and unintended manner. They are jerky, unpredictable, and quick in nature that can extend to long tremors and seizures. These movements can affect any part of the body that may even involve neck and face. These movements may affect one or more parts of the body at a time that may randomly shift to another part. They tend to settle quickly in a short time in most of the cases. They may end in a few minutes or hours. However, they may extend to days, weeks or years.


Involuntary muscle movements are characterized by unpredictable, uncontrollable and unintended movements of the muscles of the body. These movements can appear in any person at any time. The causes of such movements are stress, dehydration, tiredness, and other systemic illness. Anxiety can cause such movements.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 16, 2019

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