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 2023, September 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-panic/morning-anxiety-anxiety-panic/2010/01/morning-anxiety-101-symptoms-and-causes
Author: Aimee White
I have experienced morning nervous stomach feelings as well. At first, I thought it was anxiety from all the things life tends to throw, but after visiting a chiropractor, I came to find out it was actually something misaligned in my body, which made the way my body can process things off. That allows cortisol and other things to get blocked up rather than being processed through my body.. thus creating a constant flight or fight feeling. I would encourage you all to give it a try! It’s surprising how the body can heal itself without medications that hide what’s really going on, if it’s aligned to properly function!
Thank you for sharing this. I’ve never thought about this natural way to help alleviate anxiety.
I’m going through this morning anxiety and the doctor has tried every combination of meds...........it is the worse thing anyone can endure.......we are still working on meds but being elderly the side effects are the problem too.........so vicious I pray for help for all of us suffering this...Carol
I’ve suffered from panic for 30 years, but recently I’ve been getting them bad every morning it affects my eyes and head like they are panicky/dizzy eyes, it’s very frightening it does pass, but while it’s on I’m terrified. I wondered if anyone has this in their eyes.
I've been reading a lot of the experiences people have had on here and it really comforts me to know I'm not on my own I've had anxiety issues since I was 13 and I'm 31 now I have good days and I have bad days but I often find mornings to be the worst at my lowest point I lost 2 stone in a month because I couldn't keep food down or fluids and was just a big emotional mess but I have been blessed with a very supportive family and a little boy who is my world and he keeps my mind busy. I have found that seeing a councilor helps and that a good night's sleep makes a massive difference, from my experience not all people can be understanding of anxiety or depression because they have been lucky enough not to have had life changing experiences with it, but for those of us that have your not alone and it's a hard path to walk and sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand for a little while
I just lost my husband to a stroke right here in our bed. I have PatSD. Mornings are so scary lonely. I don’t sleep. Don’t eat well either. So horrible.
So have I judi my husband got killed working on his car and I get bad morning anxiety
The main problem I face in the mornings is having a "funny tummy". Had it for years now. If i know I have something big planned the next say I will sometimes starve myself to try to prevent needing the toilet. It's horrible.
You too?! If I'm going to a convention or something, I have to severely limit my food intake, because I'm really anxious and I get that "funny tummy" thing. If I know that I have to go somewhere in the morning, it also happens then. I took a nap today, and I was really anxious when I woke up. Usually it's just a stomach ache, but nope. I felt really sick this time. I'm relieved to see I'm not the only one who gets anxiety stomach aches. But the worst part? You eat, you get sick. You dont eat? Oh man that makes it worse when you do manage to get food into you. There is no winning lmao
I have had anxiety off and on for years. I have tried antidepressants to therapy nothing really works. I live alone which I like but being unemployed with not much to do besides food shopping is all I have. Even though I go regularly to the same local town on the hourly bus I find I get anxious for no reason. Sometimes it triggers my IBS which doesn't make me feel better. I lately have felt more anxious with morning nausea (could be of course acid reflux flaring up) I am irritated easily since I don't like this time of the year for fear of fireworks lol. I don't mind watching them on november 5th but why must shops sell them from 15th Oct?? It's something I have never grown out of hating. I wear headphones wireless to block out most sounds. I am trying to get my life sorted by going to interviews but from the moment I wake up, I begin to worry...will I get the bus okay, not feel sick with nerves or have to rush to the toilet even if I try not to eat anything 3 hours before bed time! Anyone else get the morning nausea? It's like a fear of dread. Awaiting new therapy with Talking Matters soon. Hope someone can help.
I have the same. I writhe and have restless legs, I get a heavy feeling in my chest.,it’s just awful. It’s been about 2 months now. WILL THIS PASS????
Hmm, your write up reminds me of what my senior brother passed through in the hands of anxiety, the worst is that none of the drugs recommended to him by the doctor worked out. Anxiety is really a terrible disease
i have experienced this type of anxiety this morning, at around 1am and its my first time, i woke up with feeling cold and i feel numb in all area of my body and i feel so nervous, and dizzy, weak. and i suddenly tried to get up and check my self in the bathroom mirror and i saw my self too much pale, and i think of my self that i dont know what type of body im in. I feel that i just died and i was resurrected and im adjusting myself inside my body, then i feel soo too much hungry. i immediately rush grabbing some food, and it makes me feel good in a bit cause i think myself maybe i was hungry that's why i feel dizzy and weak.
and while i was wondering what happen i searched this online blog. now i know im not alone in this situation. but this time im trying to forget what happen this morning and i keep trusting God for my rest of my days. that his will be done to me. whatever it is...
Hi I wake up every morn with panic dizzy body jolts ..feel losing my mind ..hate being alone all day ....not how cope this any a dive please
put on some beautiful gentle music when you wake up. Don't drink coffee, even if you prefer it to wake yo up. Coffee is lovely but always gives me the jitters first thing. Try boring Camomile tea maybe with peppermint and licorice which is a nice flavour. Then try to eat something. even a banana and some honey will help just give you a little boost. You aren't losing your mind, you are just lonely and a bit worried. Could you handle a dog? Dogs are such lovely companions. Maybe an older dog from the rescue, not a pup who would give you the runaround LOL....all you need when feeling shaky. Maybe you could join a yoga class or something not too strenuous but it would give you somewhere to go and look forward to when you get up. And you might meet some nice people there too. Or any other thing that interests you. Take care. You're not really alone. There's always us wobbly lot to talk to! haha Maybe join an online forum?
Really good thoughtful advice
Hi wake up every morning panic head feels awful get body jolts .feel confused as loseing my mind ..now scared me alone ..hate hubby going work been like while now scares me case I do lose my mind etc at
My husband works midnights and I have had morning anxiety for about 1 year now, it's horrible. On pristiq and klonpins. 05 3times a day, plus 15 mg remron at night.
Just woke up yet again with severe panic and a feeling of terror, thank heavens I googled and found this article. Now I know it’s just the cortisol and low blood sugar, not me. I feel better already. I’m also on meds, in therapy, changed my diet and recently joined a gym, which to my surprise I’m loving. (I go in the afternoons or evenings).
Just reading your comments about how cortisol and low blood sugar are at their worst in early morning, has decreased how i feel already, ive had gad for many years, probably from hard times from my childhood times.it always seems to be triggered by early morning wakeness, and of course i start blaming lifes events for it, im starting now to do the right things with exercise, been to the docs, on meds, getting up early , walking the dog and so on, but you don't how relieved i feel , while you feel so anxious in the morning , will go along with your advice and see how i go, thank you
Just to follow up, took your advice , when waking up, have a banana and orange juice, certainly reduces the anxiety, then i get and go for a walk , has made the difference for me,thanks
If you are not allergic, maybe adopt a pet. Cuddling with my dog or cats helps me immensely. Of course they need care. which in turn could cause some anxiety, but my dog forces me to walk it out and I feel 100X better after the walk. Bless you all, it aint easy.
Wow oh wow. I'm not alone. I feel like I'm going crazy in the morning. Once I wake up, I know there's no going back to sleep. I'm terrified of having to live through the impending day. Can't go back to sleep - dread getting out of bed. But life doesn't stop -it demands.l forward motion.
There's something going on where I'm half awake in a semi dream state, but all of the dreams are steeped in terror even if they're not scary at their core.
Take care everyone.
I have a sleeping disorder but this year i wake up dreading the day. Sometimes my anxiety gets so bad i cry and feel dizzy. I'm really starting to get irritated because it messes up my whole day then I get depressed. When I wake up i feel like i hand't even slept at all and i am cranky and just dread the day ahead.
I am going through hell at the moment ever since we moved house last Friday I have suffered anxiety, panic, fear, intrusive thoughts always worse in the morning as soon as I open my eyes, I can't be in our new home on my own and its a lovely house, wtf is wrong with me?
Haunted unless you felt that way before?
I think it may be because you are adjusting to being in your new home, and new surroundings. If you already had an anxiety disorder it’s likely a big change such as moving home has just amplified some of those feelings. I hope it starts to feel better soon as you begin to feel more at home in your lovely new house.
it spoils youre life just need to know how to be normal
Wish you all the best in finding the best help and cure for each of you.. Most important thing to do is Keep focused and think positive.. I have all the same feelings of doom in the morning as you guys.. BUT for me knowing it is Anxiety makes me feel much better.. I have seen people with the same symptoms but their illness is worst. Such as heart problems or brain issues.. So knowing this made me control and almost overcome my anxiety.. Hope this helps with your path to cure and a healthy life.. FYI: I did NOT take any meds and focused on recovery alone.. Exercise and keeping my mind busy with socializing with people helped alot !!
I am experiencing this too! Vomiting bile in the morning and I get the "gags"! I hate it. I have to force myself to eat breakfast and dread the daily routine. I want to get a new job but I'm afraid I will get nervous from new job! It sucks?
I throw up sometimes in the morning due to anxiety , when I was a little kid I thought it was just being nervous but I never knew why. Always before school , like preschool -college and now it’s every morning before work. I cry sometimes, like sob and just want to stop living and be stuck in bed or on the couch under blankets in the dark, that sounds like paradise to me . And I hate that, I wasn’t like this sometimes. It sucks Nd it wears on me and my bfs relationship. I’m so glad other people feel this. I dread going to bed and knowing I have to wake up and go to work , my boring sit at a computer all 8 hours a day mom-fri . It sucks
Hi I too am going through this . I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting ready to start an externship, I’m also sad about not being on my kids school schedules anymore and having to go work full time and not being home in the summer anymore. My palms get sweaty, feel nervous, and sometimes I feel to cry. I hate it ! I’m glad I’m not feeling alone ..
Definitely not alone! I still struggle with morning anxiety every so often. Maybe once or twice a week now. From 4-17 to 10-17 I was sick every single day. Walking around in my yard at 5 am trying to get fresh air & distract my mind. I lost 30 lbs durning this time. I changed my eating habits. I am eating “clean” & I’m sure I can attribute some of my success to that. Today was a bad day though, and it was too cold to walk today. I’m 2 hours into my day & the nausea is just now starting to subside.
I wish I knew how to fix this. I struggle daily with this. Once I'm past it the rest of the day is kinda okay. But in the mornings I just wish death.
Thank you for this informative article. I've happy to find your article. I'm 39 years old and recently suffering from the symptoms that you have provided. I'm feeling nervous after reading this article because I don't know how to treat Anxiety?
I’m glad to see I’m not alone! I wake up every morning with impending doom and the most negative thoughts ruling my mind! Please tell me if you find anything helpful. I found this and will give some of the things a try...
You probably have read it already if you’ve been researching.
i too wake up shaking with anxiety i think about what if i try not too i pray i am seeing a.therapist i need to find a dr. for a checup and maybe anxiety meds. a lot is going on in my life ill be moving in with my boyfriend soon but not soon enough. i voild go on and on.
Some very good advice there Tamara. The morning fear almost has me paralysed sometimes. I know everything you say is correct. I don't think I could have a workout the moment I wake up but i try and distract myself with a game on my phone or meditation while my brain wakes up. I drink a glass of water as soon as I wake up which also is supposed to help.I have read so much about anxiety and depression and believe I am slowly getting there. Mirtazipine has helped enormously but I still feel anxious in the morning when I wake up. I think the brain just needs time to reconfigure itself after you have had a shock/greif/depressive episode or whatever you want to call it. Patience and time are what we need (along with all the other things you have suggested). Good luck to anyone feeling these very unpleasant feelings. If you can ride this out you will be able to take on anything!
I too am suffering with this morning anxiety/depression. I wake up with a dread and horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that sometimes doesn't go away until 3pm.,,or 8pm although yesterday it subsided at 10:30am. I'm sitting here at my doctors right now and will beg her for help. It's hard to even write this because I'm soooo tired. If I close my eyes for a second I could just sleep. I force myself out of bed because I have 2 young kids that I need function for. I'm praying desperately for this to be cleared up as I can't deal with it anymore. I've been reading that high cortisol could be the culprit. I will ask her to test my levels. I also have a consult for a sleep apnea test. I'm sure I have sleep apnea. Prayers for everyone
Your experience is my EXACT experience: difference being, I have bipolar and am on meds for that. I'm recently on a bento which i hate taking but it helps me function.
I have been feeling the same way. And having children, which I do also, makes it's so much harder. You know u have to take care of ur kids. Trying to figure out how to get th irrational thought to stop fighting with the truth! I hope you get relief soon.
My mother faces exact same problem. Any advice on what you did ?
I, tpo, am waking up with terrible morning anxiety. I've had anxiety disorder for a long time but never this horrific morning thing! I feel a lump in my chest and often throw up. Can anyone help me?
Get your cortisol levels checked out!
Also be sure you aren't dehydrated, dehydration will set off anxiety!
My ex and I broke up one month ago, I found out that he cheated on me, now its been a month. We been together for for 8yrs he's been my world for the entire said years. I've been suffering these body trembling and even vomiting every morning. But it goes out at noon and feel better after up until in evening but when I wake up in the morning the feeling came back its hard for me since im working. My body weight is dropping also. I dont know what to do anymore can anyone help me what I should do? ?
I have the same issues. I'm kinda looking for an answer too. Maybe coat your stomachs with eating honey.
I saw both of your posts and I wanted to comment because my heart goes out to you both. As well as others who have/are going through this. For over a year I was having 15 panic attacks a day. And every morning I would wake up running to the bathroom and throwing up because I have such a sensitive stomach. Or when a stressful event would happen. But the grace of God, I am doing better. But I still will have seasons of high anxiety. But if it's to the point where youre throwing up that often. (I was already super skinny and really couldn't lose more weight) I would first try some ginger tea. It helps with nausea. If that doesn't help- peptobismol (pink stuff) helps coat the stomach and may help relieve some tightness. And if it's really bad I would talk to your doctor about odonsetron- anti nausea pill and works instantly. It has been a God send for me (though my insurance covers it-not cheap). Because nothing else would work.
My other inputs. Talk it out. See a counselor or someone who is a good listener. Going through a break up or something stressful- it's so important to talk it out. Your a human being and you can't always carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Allow your body to grieve and give yourself some grace. I would beat myself up so much and what a horrible person I was for having panic attacks and missing hang outs with people because of how stressed and sick I was. But it only made it worse.
Another thing, deep breathing and mindfulness. Be present focused and nothing else. Your brain will want to take you on a Rollercoaster ride when you first wake up but give it something else to think on. Like the softness of a blanket or the texture of something or some music. (What my counselor suggested) And don't fight the panic attacks. That's what made it worse for me. Once I started to accept them and understand why my body was responding the way it was. The less panic attacks and throwing up I had. Another thing. Everything inside of you will say no but I highly recommend doing a workout right when you wake up. Get rid of the stress hormones and get some happy ones. When you run or workout it creates serotonin which helps so much. Your body needs a way to get rid of the stress and if you don't find a place for it- it can go to your stomach. My dad (who also is a counselor) always says the stomach is like the second brain.
Also totally random but a huge thing that made a world of a difference for me. Diet. My whole GI track was inflamed and it made anxiety and depression a nightmare. If you have gut problems I highly recommend a diet without wheat or dairy or an anti inflammatory diet. 80-95% of your happy hormones (serotonin) are made in your gut. If that's not doing well, youre probably not doing well.
Anyways I hope this helps someone. And I encourage you all. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and easier seasons. But I pray you all find relief. On a personally note meditating and reading my bible is another thing that has been one of the biggest helps for me. Of course I am not forcing this on anyone. I am just sharing what personally has helped me and have nothing but a heart to want to help. It's been a blessing to know I don't have to have all my crap together- and to stop being such a people pleaser. It wore me out. So give yourself some grace <3
Thanks for your post. I found it very helpful.
Your comments were so helpful. Last year I found a daily Bible devotion that was a life saver for me. I have the gut problem too. Will look up suggested diet.
Tamara I have a question for you do you also get skipped beats