Why Do I Have Anxiety in the Morning?

Do you ever experience racing thoughts or anxiety in the morning before you even have a chance to hit snooze on your alarm? If you do, you’re not alone.While some anxiety is considered a normal part of life, excessive worrying about daily tasks or situations that others see as nonthreatening may indicate an anxiety disorder.

What is morning anxiety?

Although not a medical term, morning anxiety refers to waking up with feelings of stress and worry. If you are dealing with excessive anxiety, worry, and stress in the morning, there’s a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive and uncontrolled worry that pervades daily life and occurs frequently for at least six months. People with GAD typically worry about everyday actives such as work, money, family, and health.

What are the symptoms of morning anxiety?

The symptoms of morning anxiety often mimic those of generalized anxiety disorder. If you are struggling with anxiety upon waking, you may be experiencing:

  • feeling restless, “on-edge,” or “wound up”
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • signs of a panic attack, such as tight chest, tense muscles, higher than normal heart rate, or difficulty breathing
  • difficulty concentrating and finding your mind goes blank
  • difficulty controlling the worry or nervousness

What causes morning anxiety?

Morning anxiety can be caused by many factors that may also contribute to an anxiety disorder. Since morning anxiety is a reaction to excess stress and worries, there are several potential causes that may contribute to your symptoms.

The “stress hormone” cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress. Researchers have studied the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of stress in their lives. This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.

What you eat and drink first thing in the morning can also contribute to higher levels of anxiety in the early hours of the day. Caffeine and sugar can increase anxiety symptoms. But low blood sugar due to a lack of food can make anxiety symptoms worse.

If you go to bed worrying or wake up during the night with anxious thoughts, you are likely to feel anxious and concerned about your day in the morning.

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