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Can Anxiety Cause Fever

Can Anxiety Cause Fever

For a long time, doctors and scientists have recognized the link between anxiety and physical illness. We now know that anxiety is more complicated than just feeling worried or fearful. It’s also common – 26% of Delawareans are currently living with anxiety or depression. Anxiety impacts the nervous system. If you’re living with it, you’ve likely experienced at least one physical symptom. But can anxiety cause something as serious as a fever?

At SUN Behavioral Delaware, we’ve seen our fair share of surprising anxiety symptoms. We know these symptoms can aggravate your anxiety even further. Health anxiety, or the type of anxiety that causes you to feel these symptoms, is manageable. It doesn’t have to last forever. We also know that one of the ways to combat these symptoms is to simply learn more about why they’re happening. Let’s talk about that.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Physical Symptoms?

While we don’t know what causes anxiety in every person, we do know that trauma, genetics, and situational stress all play a role. That’s why each person experiences fear a little differently – everyone comes from a unique past with unique stressors. As much as the triggers for anxiety vary from person to person, one thing stays the same: the activation of the fight-or-flight response.

As human beings, we’ve been programmed to feel anxious at times. Back in our primal days, anxiety kept us alive. It taught us to avoid things that would bring us harm. It also taught us to be cautious with our bodies so that we could stay safe (and keep our families safe). Without anxiety, we would have died out in our caveman days. It prepares our bodies to react to danger.

Anxiety keeps us safe by activating our “fight or flight” response – a response that’s triggered by a rush of stress hormones. This response works by getting us ready to “stay and fight” or “run to safety.” Unfortunately, when we’re not in a dangerous situation and our stress response is activated, it can feel like a slew of physically uncomfortable symptoms like:

  • Shaking/tremors
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Stomach pain
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • And more

When our stress response is activated, a rush of adrenaline is released. This impacts our entire nervous system, and it happens almost immediately after (or even during) a stressful event. For people living with anxiety disorders, this response can happen with triggers, or things that remind us of past trauma. That means, if you’re being emotionally triggered daily, your stress response is also being triggered daily. It could also mean that you’re feeling a fair amount of physical discomfort.

Can Anxiety Cause a Fever?

In a recent case study, a man who was terrified of contracting the Covid-19 virus kept showing up to the emergency room with an unexplained fever. Regular medications like anti-inflammatories weren’t working, and it had the doctors confused. He was also presenting with symptoms like a decreased sense of smell.

In rare cases, anxiety can cause the body temperature to rise. It is not something that happens with most people, but it is possible. When this happens, it’s called a psychogenic fever. This kind of fever can’t be treated in traditional ways because it isn’t inflammatory. The man’s doctors decided to try anti-anxiety medication rather than more anti-inflammatories. Like magic, his fever and other symptoms disappeared. While this kind of response to anxiety is rare, it does happen.

Anxiety medication isn’t the only way to reverse a symptom like this. In the case study, this man was ruminating on the Covid-19 virus so much, he gave himself similar symptoms. If this fear is addressed and controlled, the symptoms will likely dissipate. That’s why, at SUN Behavioral Delaware, we believe in treating the root cause of the problem. We know that when a person is treated with evidence-based practices, the likelihood of continuing to feel these symptoms is small.

Managing Health Anxiety

There is no “magic cure” for the symptoms that present during an episode of extreme anxiety. It takes work and practice to address your triggers and traumas. However, there are measures you can take when you feel your adrenaline start to spike. There are things you can do in the moment to decrease the severity of your symptoms. Let’s take a look at some calming strategies that may help the next time you find yourself in this situation:

  1. Take a short, brisk walk. It might sound simple, but there are studies that show exercise may be just as effective as antidepressants for some people. Exercise will not only lower your blood pressure and promote dopamine production, but it will also take your mind off of your health anxiety. It’s a healthy distraction that can stop your symptoms in their tracks.
  2. Practice deep breathing. One of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety is a rapid heart rate. Sometimes, the speed of our hearts is enough to increase our feelings of anxiety and make everything worse. Deep breathing works to slow the heart and promote blood circulation. It might not feel comfortable at first. After all, when your heart is racing, the last thing your body wants to do is slow down. But after a few minutes, the heart rate will slow, and the physical symptoms will subside.
  3. Note your symptoms and what triggered them. Identifying the triggers that are unique to you is one of the best things you can do for health anxiety. Once you figure out why your fight-or-flight response is being activated, you can learn to stop it in its tracks. You can also bring this information to your therapist. They will discuss how to manage these triggers and help you find healthy coping mechanisms when you feel them.
  4. Distract yourself. Sometimes, focusing on the uncomfortable sensations associated with anxiety makes it worse. The next time you’re feeling physically unwell and you’re stuck in a cycle of rumination, get up. Read a book, watch a show, call a friend, go to the grocery store, do a craft, or do some simple chores. Focusing on your symptoms never helps.
  5. Practice body-scan meditation. The thought of focusing on your body during meditation might feel daunting, especially if you regularly feel physical anxiety. But a body-scan meditation will teach you how to identify the parts of your body that feel normal and healthy. It will also teach you to control things like nausea, a racing heart, or tremors by focusing on those areas and letting them relax.

Anxiety And a Fever: When to See a Doctor

It’s important to note that health anxiety is rarely ever dangerous. It can feel scary at the moment, but chances are, it’s not going to hurt you. However, if you’re having a hard time controlling your anxiety disorder or if it’s impacting your daily life, it’s time to see a doctor or a therapist. If you’ve never been in therapy, your doctor may be able to recommend someone. The option of medication works for some people as well. There are so many ways to control the physical symptoms of anxiety, and you don’t have to live like this.

We believe that providing individual and group therapy is a critical component of assisting patients as they navigate the road to health and wellness. From the moment you begin treatment for your anxiety disorder, you will discover that we offer a safe and supportive place to talk and learn the necessary skills that will support a healthy lifestyle. Our behavioral healthcare team is composed of licensed therapists, certified counselors, and care coordinators who are ready to guide and support you all along the way.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

At SUN Behavioral Delaware, we know how frustrating it can be to experience health anxiety like this. It’s manageable, and it starts with identifying your triggers. Making the decision to find treatment for yourself is the ultimate act of self-care. To get started, call us at 302-207-8762 today!

302-604-5600

FAQs Can Anxiety Cause Fever

What is psychogenic fever?

Psychogenic fever is a fever that’s caused by mental distress. In rare cases, anxiety can cause body temperature to rise. It isn’t something that happens with most people, but it’s possible.

Why do I feel so physically uncomfortable when I’m anxious? 

When our stress response is activated, a rush of adrenaline is released. This impacts our entire nervous system, and it happens almost immediately after (or even during) a stressful event. For people living with anxiety disorders, this response can happen with triggers, or things that remind us of past trauma. That means, if you’re being emotionally triggered daily, your stress response is also being triggered daily. It could also mean that you’re feeling a fair amount of physical discomfort.

What helps a fever caused by anxiety?

Healthy coping strategies can drastically reduce the physical discomfort you feel during times of stress. Things like exercise, meditation, and therapy can also be incredibly beneficial.

Get Help Today!

302-604-5600
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