Managing Chills Caused by Anxiety

Managing Chills Caused by Anxiety

Many of us think of ourselves as either easily chilled or overheated when in an uncomfortable situation. Just recently, I discovered that anxiety is very high among retired people in the USA. The global economic situation is causing many to lose what they had assumed was to be their “last house” to foreclosure or the value of the house is now half, or less, than what is still owed on it. Many others are anxious about Medicare or other health insurance changes and the political arena that is surrounding those health care necessities. More than likely, many of those older Americans are suffering with chills as a result of their anxieties.

Chilled “To The Bone”

Normal “Goosebumps” as a reaction to stepping into 40F something weather without a coat on looks the same as what occurs on your extremities when you hear of a horrific event. Science tells us that the reactions to cold, and to strong emotions are called cutis anserine or bumps at the base of body hairs on the skin.1  The first is a skin response as a result of a lack of protection on the outside of your body. The second response is an anxiety reaction as a result of an emotional change coming from within your body. Although, it might feel like the emotion is throughout the body (to the bone) the fact is all that is really happening is your “hair is standing on end!”

Normal Reactions

There is no immediate danger attached to the chilling, but covering up does not typically stop the discomfort. Experts tell us that psychologically you are chilled as a way of involuntarily trying to increase your body temperature. You are probably having a panic attack. Your body has brought out the survival reserves to help you cope.

Some people experience chills and fever,2 this process might go back and forth within a few seconds of each other. It can fool adults into thinking they are coming down with the flu, but that is not the case. This is an emotional reaction, not a viral or bacterial disease.

There are cases reported of people who get normally chilled and that alone brings on feelings of anxiety due to the high correlation of chills having accompanied anxiety in the past.3

Ways To Ease the Discomfort

You can help your whole body to feel better by making yourself a warm glass of cocoa or a hot cup of tea. Some people respond well to the caffeine in the cocoa or tea, while others avoid it all together by having herbal tea. Either way the warmth is often soothing and does reduce the chills to a manageable level.

De-stressing under a cozy lap robe is another way to calm your system when chilled. If you have a rocking chair, sitting in it is also a way to reduce the stress that might be going on in your life. The gentle movement of the chair, like an infant’s cradle, can feel good to the entire body while easing any tension. Finally, some music that has a soothing tone can be a great benefit to overcoming chills due to anxiety.


1. TA Brown, P DiNardo, DH Barlow – 1994. Anxietydisorders interview schedule adult version (ADIS-IV): Client interview schedule. Oxford University Press, Oxford England.

2. Russell Noyes, Jr, MD; John Clancy, MD, FRCP(C); Raymond Crowe, MD; Paul R. Hoenk, MSW; Donald J. Slymen, MS, 2001, The Familial Prevalence of Anxiety Neurosis. The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Vol. 20, Issue 4, pp. 399-406.

3. Ginsberg, G., Riddle,M. and Davies, M. Somatic Symptoms in Children and Adolescents With Anxiety Disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry  Volume 45, Issue 10, October 2006, Pages 1179–1187

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