Some feel an overwhelming sense of anxiousness upon the first hour of waking up. It’s normal to have some anxiety about the day’s tasks or certain desires. Stress is a survival tool, helping us prepare to take on the day. However, some people experience anxiety every morning, which can carry on throughout the day. Extreme anxiety can hinder work performance, damage relationships, and lead to depression.
While some have ways to deal with stress, anxiety can cause someone to act out in destructive ways, such as abusing illegal substances or becoming aggressive. They look for ways to build confidence. Someone who was once an occasional drinker may ponder, “what is cocaine?” or “what is an opioid?” in an effort to find something to calm their nerves.
However, there are healthy options to treat morning anxiety. In fact, stimulants like cocaine can greatly increase anxious feelings. And even though depressants like opioids and alcohol seem like they could calm you down, it’s been proven to lead to more anxiety in the long term.
Below we’ll dive deeper into why you may feel anxious after you wake up and uncover some helpful approaches to managing anxiety.
What Is Morning Anxiety?
Morning anxiety isn’t a scientific term, but in general, this term describes when someone wakes up with feelings of stress, worry, and apprehension about the day. People who experience this may have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD characterizes an uncontrollable worry that seeps into every part of daily life. No matter how small or big a task, event, or action is, someone with GAD experiences extreme anxiety over it.
What Are Some Symptoms of Morning Anxiety?
There are many symptoms of GAD that overlap with morning anxiety. People who experience any of the below symptoms may have a generalized anxiety disorder.
Some symptoms of morning anxiety are:
- feeling restless, irritable, on-edge, or wound up
- a tight chest and tense muscles
- accelerated heartbeat and heart rate
- trouble breathing
- difficulty concentrating and retaining information
- finding the mind goes blank
- inability to control worry and nervousness
What Can Cause Morning Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s response to fear and stress. The stress hormone cortisol is released when we experience situations or thoughts we feel we have no control over. The National Library of Medicine found that people who lead very stressful lives develop a cortisol awakening response (CAR). Upon waking up, a stressed person’s brain will flood the body with anxiety to prepare them for the day’s tasks.
Additionally, consuming caffeine and sugar first thing in the morning can lead to morning anxiety. Contrarily, eating nothing and going through the day with low sugar levels can worsen anxiety. Going to bed with a worrisome mind can make you feel stressed when you wake up.
What Treatment Options Are Available for Morning Anxiety?
An overabundance of anxiety and stress can negatively affect people’s moods. Some find themselves stuck in a circle of worry with only occasional sporadic relief. But there are safe ways to help relieve morning anxiety.
There are several anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications that can be prescribed to treat morning anxiety and generalized anxiety. It’s best to confer with a medical professional before starting any new medication.
Some medications used for anxiety are:
Mental Health Therapy
Trying out therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or group therapy, can lead to feelings of calmness and clarity about your anxiety. Therapists can develop stress-decreasing strategies and help you get to the root causes of anxiety. CBT teaches new ways of thinking, acting, and reacting to triggering situations.
Medication and therapy can be costly, but there are cheap and free options to help relieve morning anxiety. Sometimes, omitting certain foods, beverages, or actions can lead to a lifted spirit.
Lifestyle changes that decrease anxiety are:
- following a set sleeping schedule
- lowering alcohol, caffeine, and sugar consumption
- limiting processed foods
- practicing yoga, meditation, or breathwork
- physical activity
- journaling, creative writing, painting, or other artistic endeavors
- making time to talk with friends, family, or co-workers
Extreme worrying can feel all-encompassing, but you can overcome morning anxiety and generalized anxiety with the above tips. If feelings persist, you may want to consult with a doctor to see what next steps are available.