What are Anxiety Tics?

anxiety tics

What are Anxiety Tics?

Anxiety is a common feeling that almost everyone deals with at some point in their life. If you feel anxious during high-stress situations, this is a normal occurrence. However, some people experience anxiety daily, even during everyday tasks. 

When you experience anxiety frequently, you are most likely suffering from an anxiety disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in America, affecting 40 million people every year.[1]

While most people who experience anxiety deal with an increased heart rate, excessive sweating, and racing thoughts, some individuals may experience anxiety tics. Anxiety tics are involuntary movements that occur because of high levels of stress. 

What Causes Anxiety Tics?

Anxiety tics occur when you experience involuntary twitching during times of high stress or tension. Typically, this looks like muscle spasms in a certain area of your body, like your eyes, arms, legs, or neck. However, anxiety twitches can also be nervous habits like clenching your jaw, playing with your hair, or biting your nails. 

If you are experiencing anxiety tics, you might have a co-occurring disorder like Tourette’s that is causing you to experience involuntary movements during high stress. Typically, people experiencing anxiety tics have a co-occurring anxiety and tic disorder.

The conditions that can cause anxiety tics include:[2]

  • Transient or provisional tic disorder
  • Chronic or persistent motor or vocal tic disorder
  • Tourette’s syndrome 

The Different Types of Anxiety Tics 

There are two main types of tics to be aware of: motor and vocal. Motor tics are twitches or movements that occur in a part of your body. On the other hand, vocal tics are involuntary words or sounds you make when you are feeling stressed.

Examples of motor tics include:

  • Repeated or exaggerated blinking 
  • Sniffing 
  • Grimacing 
  • Clicking your fingers 
  • Touching objects or body parts repeatedly 
  • Muscle twitching in a specific area of your body
  • Shrugging

Examples of vocal tics include:

  • Throat clearing 
  • Grunting 
  • Clicking your mouth or tongue 

These categories of tics can be broken down even further. You can experience either simple or complex tics. While simple tics only last for a moment and involve fewer muscles, complex tics use multiple muscles and occur in patterns. 

How Do You Overcome Anxiety Tics?

Dealing with anxiety tics can be extremely distressing, especially if they are occurring frequently. You might feel embarrassed or experience even more anxiety when one occurs, making your tics happen even more frequently. As a result, it is important to be aware of how to overcome anxiety tics. 

The first thing you should do is see a mental health provider to determine what your diagnosis is. Oftentimes, anxiety tics are a sign that you have a co-occurring tic disorder. 

In addition to seeking professional help, you can overcome anxiety tics by:

Using Coping Skills

The best way to cope with anxiety tics is to determine what type of tic you are experiencing. The coping strategies you will use depend on what specific involuntary action you are struggling with.[3]

For example, if your tics are in your arms or hands you can engage in an activity that requires you to focus and use your hands. If your tics involve banging or tapping, you can place something soft on the surface in front of you to ensure that you do not hurt yourself. On the other hand, people with eye tics can begin blinking slowly to control the movements in their eyes and prevent their tics from continuing. 

Attending Therapy 

If you are looking to cope with anxiety tics, the best thing you can do is attend therapy. Your tics will continue to happen until your anxiety is managed, which is why therapy is so important. By attending professional therapy, you can receive personalized coping mechanisms to help you effectively deal with stress.

Taking Medication 

Lastly, some individuals require medication to manage their tics. If you experience anxiety tics, this means the involuntary movements you deal with stem from high levels of stress. Sometimes, taking medication can balance the chemicals in your brain that are causing your anxiety to become out of control. 

Find Help for Anxiety

If you or a loved one suffer from an anxiety disorder and frequent tics, it’s time to seek professional help. Experiencing tics and high levels of stress is an indication that you are dealing with co-occurring anxiety and a tic disorder. Receiving professional treatment can help you learn how to manage your conditions and lessen your symptoms. 

To learn more about our treatment programs for anxiety, contact Florida Recovery Group today. 


  1. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Anxiety Disorders, Retrieved July 2023 From https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
  2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Diagnosing Tic Disorders, Retrieved July 2023 From https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/diagnosis.html
  3. Tourettes Action: Tic Tips: Strategies to help you manage your Tourette Syndrome, Retrieved July 2023 From https://www.tourettes-action.org.uk/storage/downloads/1374586646_Tic-tips—managing-your-TS.pdf