Can Anxiety Cause Fever?

January 4, 2024

A man stares out the bus window in deep thought about Anxiety and fever

Anxiety can manifest in various symptoms that resemble fever-like sensations, leading to the question, “can anxiety cause fever?”

Anxiety and Fever

In rare instances, anxiety symptoms may result in an elevation of body temperature, known as psychogenic fever. This is a fever that’s attributed to psychological factors.

While further human research is required, animal studies suggest that acute stress can occasionally lead to an increase in body temperature. A recent review of studies, encompassing both human and animal research, indicated that exposure to stress can elevate body temperature.

The average adult body temperature ranges from 96°F to 98°F. Various factors, such as hormones, time of day, and activity levels, can cause temperature fluctuations of approximately 1°F throughout the day.

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While it’s common for body temperature to vary within this range, persistent stress or acutely stressful events may amplify these fluctuations. Researchers found that individuals exposed to acute anxiety-inducing situations developed fevers as high as 106°F. Others experiencing prolonged stress developed a low-level fever from anxiety lasting months or years, with temperatures ranging from 99° to 100°F.

Psychogenic fever appears to be a physical response to emotional disturbance, lacking evidence of coexisting physical causes such as infection or inflammation. Unlike fevers caused by physical factors, which respond to common fever-reducing medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, an anxiety fever does not typically subside with these medications. That said, medications used to treat anxiety symptoms, such as diazepam and buspirone, may have an impact on psychogenic fever. Consult a healthcare professional to explore accurate treatment options, considering the benefits and drawbacks of anxiety medications

A woman shows signs of discomfort, leading her to ask "can anxiety cause a fever?"

Can Anxiety Cause Chills Without Fever?

So, while anxiety itself does not typically cause a rise in body temperature, it can manifest in various physical symptoms, including chills. The sensation of feeling chilled without an actual fever may be linked to the body’s stress response.

During moments of heightened anxiety, the body’s fight or flight response can be triggered, leading to physiological changes. These changes, such as increased muscle tension and heightened alertness, can sometimes create a sensation of cold or chills.

Additionally, anxiety may affect circulation, leading to fluctuations in body temperature perception. The body’s response to stress can vary from person to person, and some may experience chills as a part of their anxiety symptoms.

Other factors, though – environmental conditions or pre-existing medical conditions, for instance – can contribute to the experience of chills. If you’re consistently experiencing chills without a fever and it’s causing distress, consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine the underlying causes and appropriate management strategies.

Treating a Fever Due to Anxiety

While a fever caused by anxiety doesn’t respond to traditional fever-reducing medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, there are potential approaches to manage symptoms:

  • Addressing underlying anxiety: Treating the root cause of anxiety is crucial. Psychological interventions, such as therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy or counseling), mindfulness practices, and stress reduction techniques, can help manage anxiety levels.
  • Anxiolytic medications: In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe medications specifically designed to alleviate anxiety symptoms. These may include benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium) or buspirone (Buspar). These medications might also contribute to reducing psychogenic fever.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can positively impact anxiety levels. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and a balanced diet contribute to overall well-being and may help in managing psychogenic fever.
  • Relaxation techniques: Incorporating relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga, can help calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety-related symptoms.

Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual circumstances. Self-management strategies, combined with professional guidance, can contribute to better overall mental and physical health.

FAQs

Can anxiety cause a fever?

Anxiety itself doesn’t directly cause a fever, as it is not a physiological response to stress. However, chronic stress and anxiety may weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections that can lead to fever.

Can anxiety attacks cause fever?

Anxiety attacks typically do not cause a fever. The symptoms of anxiety attacks are primarily psychological, manifesting as intense fear or panic, rather than triggering a rise in body temperature.

Can anxiety cause fever and chills?

While anxiety alone doesn’t cause fever and chills, persistent stress can impact the immune system, potentially increasing susceptibility to illnesses that present with these symptoms. It’s essential to address both mental health and physical well-being for a comprehensive approach to overall health.

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At Connections Mental Health in Southern California, we offer compassionate and individualized treatment for anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions.

Situated by the beach, our facility provides a warm and nurturing environment, promoting stability, peace, and healing. With a dedicated team of experts, we seamlessly integrate holistic and evidence-based treatments within a center thoughtfully designed to evoke a home-like atmosphere rather than a clinical setting.

Whether you personally or someone you know is navigating episodes of anxiety, our team is here to provide guidance and support, aiming to restore functioning and enhance mental well-being at Connections Mental Health. Contact our admissions team today at 844-413-0009 to explore how you can initiate your recovery journey in Southern California.

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