Why Your Anxiety Happens At The Same Time Every Day (2023)

Why Your Anxiety Happens At The Same Time Every Day (1)

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Anxiety has been a constant, if unwelcome, companion for as long as I can remember.

Therapists, meditation and self-help books have given me tools to cope with my racing thoughts and mental spirals for the most part. But lately, I’ve noticed a sudden increase in anxiety at the same time every afternoon — no matter what I’m doing. This recurring anxiety spike happens when I’m working, spending time with my kids or relaxing on the weekends. Usually, it’s around 4-6 p.m.

It feels like my mood plummets. Sometimes it’s accompanied by a racing heartbeat and an intense fight-or-flight feeling. Other times it feels like a slow sense of dread, where I just want to curl up on the couch and disappear. Because it’s been happening so frequently, I have begun to feel anxious thinking about this part of my day, trying not to schedule anything important during these hours, and just hoping to get through it.


If you have an anxiety disorder — which is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults every year — then you know what it’s like to feel debilitated by anxiety. In fact, the Mayo Clinic says people with anxiety disorders “frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations.” And the American Psychological Association notes that those with anxiety disorders “usually have recurring intrusive thoughts.”

So why does this recurring anxiety happen at the same time every day, and more importantly, what can we do to stop it?

Luckily, just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to suffer. There are many ways to cope with anxiety even the kind that occurs at the same time every day for seemingly no reason.

Why Your Anxiety Happens At The Same Time Every Day (2)

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What causes recurring anxiety

Despite how annoying this particular anxiety issue can be, it isn’t exactly uncommon.

“Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry and nervousness that is often accompanied by physical symptoms of sweating, heart palpitations, stomach pains or nausea,” said Desreen Dudley, a licensed clinical psychologist for Teladoc. “Anxiety is often triggered by an upcoming event or an unknown outcome to a circumstance, in which a person worries about what to expect or anticipates a negative outcome, respectively.”

Because our brains can learn anxiety, “our bodies and brains often learn to react with anxiety at a certain time of day or in certain situations,” Dudley said. “For example, I treat many patients who experience onset anxiety in the morning when they get ready for work, especially if their job is a great deal of stress for them.”

It’s possible to condition ourselves to have anxiety at the same time every day, albeit subconsciously, added Suraji Wagage, a licensed clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness.

“We are constantly making connections between seemingly unrelated stimuli each day, which can become ingrained associations,” Wagage said.

If you have insomnia, then you might suddenly feel wide awake when you lie down to sleep. “Some patients have paired being in bed and being awake by repeating the experience of being awake in bed over and over, so now even if they are sleepy when they lie down, lying in bed actually elicits wakefulness,” Wagage explained.


Similarly, we can associate something anxiety-provoking that happened in the past with a time of day in our present. This could happen after experiencing a trauma at a certain time of day in your past (or a certain time of year or certain type of weather). So, you continue to feel anxious at the same time every day or when the forecast shows the same type of weather.

Experiencing a lack of distractions that normally keep your anxiety at bay can also be a major cause of recurring anxiety. That’s why it can crop up on the weekends or in the evenings.

“We often don’t have time to worry when our day is filled and busy, and anxiety can creep in when we have unstructured time,” Wagage said. “This is why many people report that they feel suddenly anxious at night when everything else is taken care of and it’s time for bed.”

Recurring anxiety could also be a sign of having generalized anxiety disorder or metabolic and hormonal imbalances, according to Sanam Hafeez, a New York-based neuropsychologist, director of Comprehend the Mind and a faculty member at Columbia University.

“Suppose your anxiety seems to increase at night,” Hafeez said. “In that case, the amount of caffeine you had during the day, medications and certain medical conditions can contribute to the increased anxiety at night.”


Other factors that can contribute to recurring anxiety also include environmental factors, stress, genetics and brain chemistry. “Even skipping meals, health issues, medications, or personal triggers that remind you of a traumatic event or bad memory can cause anxiety at the same time every day,” Hafeez added.

“Our bodies and brains often learn to react with anxiety at a certain time of day or in certain situations.”

- Desreen Dudley

Recurring anxiety in the afternoon happens frequently

Research has shown that anxiety symptoms tend to be more severe in the afternoon or evening compared with the morning.

Peaking anxiety every afternoon may be attributed to what you may be associating with that particular time of day, according to Dudley.

If your afternoons are usually filled with many tasks that need to be done — child care, transportation or afternoon meetings for work — you may subconsciously associate afternoon with a past or anticipated stressful event, which would trigger your anxiety around this same time of day,” she said.


After you’re triggered, your anxiety takes over. “Anxiety tends to have a cascading effect,” Wagage said. “First, even subconsciously, we pick up on something like our heart beating a bit faster for no particular reason, which then leads to a thought of ‘uh oh, something is wrong with me,’ which then leads our heart to beat even faster and sweating and shaking to start, which leads to even more catastrophic thoughts and so on.”

“This is to say that even if something very minor, or nothing in particular, triggers the initial anxiety symptom, anxiety can self-perpetuate into a spiral,” Wagage continued. “This spiral can then get paired with the time of day when it happened.”

Additionally, a physiological trigger could be to blame. You could be under more stress in the afternoons, or it could be related to a drop in blood sugar.

“Some individuals may experience more stress or demands at a specific time of the day, or their glucose levels may fluctuate as the day progresses, which may trigger or exacerbate fatigue or mood and anxiety changes,” said Leela Magavi, a Johns Hopkins-trained psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry and MindPath Care Centers.

Magavi said afternoon anxiety could also be triggered by feeling tired, especially when you feel you still have so much to finish. Of course, “frequent rumination and negative thinking could worsen mood and energy,” Magavi noted.


Why Your Anxiety Happens At The Same Time Every Day (3)

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How to overcome or prevent recurring anxiety

Start by doing a little research. Over the next few days, gather as much information on your recurring anxiety as you can.

According to Wagage, some questions you should ask yourself include:

  • What time of day do you experience sudden anxiety?
  • How high would you rate the anxiety on a scale of 0-10?
  • What accompanying thoughts and physical sensations did you notice, including thoughts about your anxiety?
  • What did you do or want to do when you felt anxious?
  • Is there any context that might be worth noting? (e.g., Did you sleep poorly the night before? Did you have a stressful day at work? When did you drink coffee? Did you take any medications?)

She said that even the act of observing your anxiety in this way “transforms the experience fundamentally.” Now, you are on the outside looking at your anxiety, which can “lessen the intensity of the emotion.”


Next, you can start to change the pattern. “Try being somewhere else at that time of day and doing something else, like watching a movie with a friend, taking a swim, or going for a hike,” Wagage said. “If the anxiety arises while doing this activity, practice recognizing it and then continuing what you were doing. Exercise may be particularly helpful because there is overlap between the physical sensations during and after exertion and anxiety — we can start to reinterpret these uncomfortable sensations as part of exercise rather than anxiety.”

One important thing to note: You shouldn’t try to avoid the anxiety. “Anxiety is part of life and challenging, fulfilling things often come with anxiety,” she said. “Rather, you want to be able to do the things that are meaningful without being held back by anxiety.”

Hafeez recommended being present in the moment when your anxiety occurs. “Be aware of the moment that you are in when these anxious thoughts appear,” she said. “Once you are aware of the present moment, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths into your low belly.”

“Learn to accept that not every thought signals a sensible reason to worry, and not every thought is true,” Hafeez continued. “Instead of believing the thought, arguing it, or trying to fix it, let the thought come, label it (such as ‘judgment’ or ‘worry’) and replace your negative thought with a positive one.”

Another thing you can try is to identify what is triggering your anxiety and tackle those things accordingly. For example, if you are “experiencing anxiety due to caffeine consumption, it may be helpful to dilute [your] coffee or switch to tea,” Magavi said.


If you “experience burnout around this time, it may be helpful to take a break to walk or stretch,” she added. “Healthy distractions can decrease the activity of the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain.”

If you find that ruminating on negative thoughts is contributing to your recurring anxiety, Magavi recommended listing your accomplishments, including small victories, and meditating on those. She also said to repeat positive affirmations, write gratitude letters to yourself, visualize success, and imagine victories in order to “alleviate anticipatory anxiety and negate negative feelings associated with rumination.”

You could also set aside the time you normally feel anxious to read, relax, spend time with family, create lists, journal, pray, do art or travel. Seeking help during these times is also a good idea.

“Some of my patients schedule to see me during these recurrently stressful times,” Magavi said. “Scheduling an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist during these times could help pinpoint triggering and alleviating factors, and consequently, expedite the healing process.”

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Does anxiety happen at the same time every day? ›

Similarly, among those with panic attacks, general anxiety and panic symptoms are highest in the afternoon; however, sense of threat is highest in the morning (Kenardy, Fried, Kraemer, & Taylor, 1992).

Why do I always get anxiety at a certain time? ›

The most likely reason is simply the lack of distractions. Anxiety tends to take over when we are lost in our own thoughts, and unfortunately, most people have little to think about at night that prevents them from focusing on their anxiety.

Why do I get anxiety at the same time every morning? ›

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.

Why does my anxiety get bad at the same time every year? ›

If your struggle with anxiety disorder started due to life circumstances at that time of year, a return to similar life circumstances could cause a return of anxiety, stress, and symptoms. For instance: An increase in job demands due to seasonal changes could cause an increase in anxiety and stress, and then symptoms.

Why do I wake up at 3am with anxiety? ›

Sleep disorders

“If you wake up and begin to experience worry, anxiety or frustration, you likely have activated your sympathetic nervous system, your 'fight-or-flight' system,” explains Dr. Kane. “When this happens, your brain switches from sleep mode to wake mode.

What makes anxiety worse? ›

A big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety — for example, a death in the family, work stress or ongoing worry about finances. Personality. People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others are.

How do I get rid of anxiety forever? ›

Managing anxiety
  1. Breathing techniques. One of the most important things to remember when you start to feel anxious is to breathe. ...
  2. Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is an excellent way to help reduce anxiety. ...
  3. Healthy diet. ...
  4. Reduce caffeine. ...
  5. Get outdoors. ...
  6. Aerobic exercise. ...
  7. Yoga and meditation. ...
  8. Massage.

How do I get rid of frequent anxiety? ›

Here's what you can do:
  1. Keep physically active. Develop a routine so that you're physically active most days of the week. ...
  2. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  3. Quit smoking and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. ...
  4. Use stress management and relaxation techniques. ...
  5. Make sleep a priority. ...
  6. Eat healthy.

How do I stop frequent anxiety? ›

8 long-term strategies for coping with anxiety
  1. Identify and learn to manage your triggers. ...
  2. Adopt cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) ...
  3. Do a daily or routine meditation. ...
  4. Keep a journal. ...
  5. Socialize. ...
  6. Try supplements or change your diet. ...
  7. Keep your body and mind healthy. ...
  8. Ask your doctor about medications.
Dec 18, 2018

What are the top 10 medications for anxiety? ›

Top 10 medications to treat anxiety
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. ...
  • Tricyclic antidepressants. ...
  • Azospirodecanediones. ...
  • Antipsychotic medications. ...
  • Antihistamines. ...
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors. ...
  • Alpha-blockers (also called alpha-adrenergic antagonists)
Feb 8, 2022

How do I break my morning anxiety cycle? ›

What can I do to help manage morning anxiety?
  1. Reassure yourself. Remind yourself that what you are feeling is your body's way of waking you up, and nothing more, “This is just my body's way of waking me up, it will pass”. ...
  2. Get moving! ...
  3. Ground yourself in the here and now. ...
  4. Assess your sleep hygiene. ...
  5. Try mindfulness.
Feb 28, 2022

How long does anxiety last? ›

Typical anxiety can last for days, or at least until you've dealt with whatever is making you anxious, but anxiety disorders can persist for months or years without relief. Often, the only way to control anxiety is through professional treatment.

Does constant anxiety ever go away? ›

Most people with anxiety disorders never fully eliminate their anxiety. However, they can learn how to control their feelings and greatly reduce the severity of their anxiety through therapy (and medication if needed).

What mental disorders cause anxiety? ›

The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.

What is it called when you wake up with anxiety? ›

A nocturnal (night) panic attack is a sudden feeling of fear that wakes you from sleep. You wake up in a state of panic, experiencing physical reactions like a racing heart, sweating and difficulty breathing (gasping for air).

Who gets anxiety the most? ›

Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are often treated with counseling, medicine, or a combination of both. Some women also find that yoga or meditation helps with anxiety disorders.

What food triggers anxiety? ›

Foods (and drinks) that are stress- and anxiety-provoking

Caffeine. Sugary drinks and foods. Processed foods, such as chips, cookies, frozen foods and ready-made meals. Foods high in trans fats and excessive saturated fats, such as fried foods, red meat, full-fat dairy, butter and baked goods.

What triggers anxiety in the brain? ›

Anxiety happens when a part of the brain, the amygdala, senses trouble. When it senses threat, real or imagined, it surges the body with hormones (including cortisol, the stress hormone) and adrenaline to make the body strong, fast and powerful.

Why won't my anxiety go away? ›

An anxiety disorder can be caused by multiple factors, such as genetics, environmental stressors and medical conditions. New research also indicates that chronic anxiety symptoms that will not go away can be due to an autoimmune response, triggered by common infections.

Is anxiety a chemical imbalance? ›

But researchers don't know exactly what causes anxiety disorders. They suspect a combination of factors plays a role: Chemical imbalance: Severe or long-lasting stress can change the chemical balance that controls your mood. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period can lead to an anxiety disorder.

What vitamins help with anxiety? ›

Supplements for anxiety
  • Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 can improve mood and energy, and it has been a must for many of my patients throughout the pandemic, says Dr. ...
  • Magnesium: ...
  • Melatonin: ...
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: ...
  • Chamomile: ...
  • Valerian root: ...
  • Ashwagandha: ...
  • Kava:
May 1, 2023

What is a drug that calms you down? ›

Benzodiazepines (also known as tranquilizers) are the most widely prescribed type of medication for anxiety. Drugs such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) work quickly, typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour.

What can I drink to calm my nerves? ›

7 Everyday Tonics that Help Your Body Adjust to Stress and Anxiety
  • Ginger.
  • Maca.
  • Matcha.
  • Reishi.
  • Apple cider vinegar.
  • Turmeric.
  • Ashwagandha.
Jun 11, 2018

What is the number 1 prescription for anxiety? ›

The most prominent of anti-anxiety drugs for the purpose of immediate relief are those known as benzodiazepines; among them are alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).

What does anxiety feel like? ›

feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax. having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst. feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down. feeling like other people can see you're anxious and are looking at you.

How do you know if you need anxiety medication? ›

7 Signs You Might Benefit from Anti-Anxiety Medication
  • You're Perpetually Nervous and on Edge. ...
  • You Avoid Things That Are Good for You. ...
  • You Toss and Turn Every Night. ...
  • You Have Mysterious Aches and Pains. ...
  • You Have a Permanent Bellyache. ...
  • You Work Hard but Get Nothing Done. ...
  • You Regularly Fly Off the Handle.

Why is anxiety worst in the morning? ›

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

How to take magnesium for anxiety? ›

If you take magnesium as a supplement, studies that showed that magnesium can have anti-anxiety effects generally used dosages of between 75 and 360 mg a day, according to the 2017 review. It's best to consult a healthcare practitioner before taking any supplement so you know the correct dose for you.

How long does it take the brain to heal from anxiety? ›

Creating new neural pathways may take time — several weeks to months — but it can help your brain address triggers with more confidence, so you feel less anxious overall. Consistency is the key.

Will my anxiety go back to normal? ›

Feelings of anxiety are likely to pass with time as we get used to the "new normal" but it's important to do what we can to take care of our mental health. There are lots of things that can help you to manage these feelings and make it easier to adjust.

Can anxiety go away without medication? ›

Anxiety is treatable without medication using the right combination of lifestyle changes, therapies, and support. If a person is concerned about their anxiety, they should reach out to a mental health professional or doctor and not delay care.

Does anxiety get worse with age? ›

Does anxiety get worse with age? Anxiety disorders don't necessarily get worse with age, but the number of people suffering from anxiety changes across the lifespan. Anxiety becomes more common with older age and is most common among middle-aged adults.

Does anxiety happen at any time? ›

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

How often does anxiety come and go? ›

For most people, feelings of anxiety come and go, only lasting a short time. Some moments of anxiety are more brief than others, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. But for some people, these feelings of anxiety are more than just passing worries or a stressful day at work.

How common is daily anxiety? ›

An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

How do I calm my anxiety suddenly? ›

Try this:
  1. breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose.
  2. breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth.
  3. some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5 on each in-breath and each out-breath.
  4. close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
Jan 5, 2023

What does anxiety do to your brain? ›

Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to structural degeneration and decreased functionality of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. This can increase the risk for psychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.

What helps treat anxiety? ›

Some ways to manage anxiety disorders include learning about anxiety, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, correct breathing techniques, dietary adjustments, exercise, learning to be assertive, building self-esteem, cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, structured problem solving, medication and support groups.

How I healed my anxiety without drugs? ›

Anxiety Treatment Without Medication: 7 Holistic Ways to Cope
  1. Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check. ...
  2. Avoid Stimulants. ...
  3. Get Enough Sleep. ...
  4. Just Breathe. ...
  5. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  6. Exercise. ...
  7. Do What You Enjoy. ...
  8. Where to Get Help.
Dec 6, 2017

When will anxiety go away? ›

An anxiety disorder can last anywhere from a few months to many years. It will go away completely for some, and for others, it may be a lifelong condition to treat.

How do I know if my anxiety is normal? ›

Normal levels of anxiety lie on one end of a spectrum and may present as low levels of fear or apprehension, mild sensations of muscle tightness and sweating, or doubts about your ability to complete a task. Importantly, symptoms of normal anxiety do not negatively interfere with daily functioning.

What is daily anxiety called? ›

Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition of excessive worry about everyday issues and situations. It lasts longer than 6 months. In addition to feeling worried you may also feel restlessness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, increased muscle tension, and trouble sleeping.

Will daily anxiety go away? ›

Typical anxiety can last for days, or at least until you've dealt with whatever is making you anxious, but anxiety disorders can persist for months or years without relief. Often, the only way to control anxiety is through professional treatment.


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