Anxiety And Swollen Lymph Nodes - Is There A Connection?

By Margaret Wack|Updated June 14, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

Have you noticed swollen lymph nodes? If you're feeling overwhelming anxiety, you may be experiencing physical symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes. Anxiety can affect many different areas of the body, leading to anxiety-related physical symptoms including a swollen lymph system, physical pain, muscle tension, fatigue, changes in sleep and appetite, health anxiety, and much more. Speaking with an online therapist can help you determine if your physical symptoms are caused by anxiety and help you navigate how to alleviate these symptoms. 

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Stress Can Become Overwhelming

In addition to these symptoms, a less common but still significant symptom of anxiety can be swollen lymph nodes. While swollen lymph nodes can be caused by a variety of other illnesses, including strep throat, mononucleosis, and even cancer, they are also a possible symptom of stress and anxiety. Your mental and physical health are closely related; explore more: can mono come back with stress?

If you're suffering from swollen lymph nodes and aren't sure of the cause, be sure to check with your doctor to determine what the best course of treatment is.

How Anxiety May Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes are small organs located throughout the body that are part of the immune system. They help to protect the body against illness and disease by filtering out harmful substances. There are groups of lymph nodes, especially concentrated in the neck, torso, chest, and other areas of the body. Lymph nodes also store white blood cells, which fight off harmful bacteria and other particles to keep the body healthy and safe from illness.

When the body is subject to stress or infection, the lymph nodes can swell and become larger than usual. Lymph nodes can also become tender to the touch and may be accompanied by fever, congestion, sore throat, and other related symptoms. In most cases, lymph nodes return to their normal size once the body has fought off the source of infection or disease. The standard response is usually to identify the cause and give it a few days to resolve itself.

Swollen lymph nodes can sometimes be caused by stress, and are an example of a physical symptom resulting from mental illness. While the process by which stress and anxiety cause lymph nodes are unclear, they're often correlated, especially when other physical symptoms of stress are present. Although there is no direct link between swollen lymph nodes and stress, swollen lymph nodes or perceived soreness where lymph nodes are present can be the result of stress, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.

There may be a link between stress and a lowered immune system, which means lymph nodes have to work harder to help protect the body. Due to a lowered immune system, the body may also be more likely to experience mild illnesses, including colds, fevers, and infections associated with swollen lymph. Swollen lymph nodes can also be the result of stress anxiety, which causes people to feel as if they are experiencing illnesses, even when they may be otherwise healthy. Muscle tension, a common symptom of stress, can also imitate the feeling of lymph nodes when the neck becomes tense and sore.

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In addition to these specific symptoms, anxiety can cause a variety of physical symptoms in the body related to the lymph nodes, and symptoms can vary from person to person. If you're not sure whether your swollen lymph nodes or other physical symptoms are the results of stress and anxiety or another illness, be sure to consult a medical professional to make sure that there's nothing more serious going on. If your swollen lymph nodes are caused by stress, you can explore potential treatment options, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes, among others.

Other Potential Causes Of Inflamed Lymph Nodes

While stress and anxiety may be potential causes of swollen lymph nodes, there are also a variety of other primarily physical causes. These can include common illnesses like colds and strep throat, as well as more serious diseases like cancer. If you're experiencing swollen lymph nodes, be sure to rule out serious illness and pursue the treatment options that are appropriate to your particular situation.

Swollen lymph nodes can be caused by a variety of health conditions. The most common illnesses causing lymph nodes to swell include the common cold, ear infections, abscessed teeth, and strep throat. They may also be caused by illnesses including the flu, stomach or skin infections, some sexually transmitted diseases, and mononucleosis or glandular fever in younger adults. In rare cases, swollen lymph nodes can result from lupus, measles, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, and more. Swollen lymph nodes may also be a symptom of leukemia and other kinds of cancer.

As you can see, lymph nodes swell for many reasons. While having swollen lymph nodes due to stress may be painful and worrying, there's usually no cause for concern. In many cases, swollen lymph nodes are the result of common illnesses that usually clear up after a few days to a few weeks. In some rarer instances, additional treatment may be necessary. Seeking the help of a medical professional can help you to determine the reason for your swollen lymph nodes.

Related Physical Symptoms

If you think your swollen lymph nodes may be related to stress and anxiety, it's a good idea to check and see whether you might be experiencing any other related symptoms. While everyone experiences stress and anxiety differently, and symptoms may vary from person to person, there are some common symptoms to watch out for.

Physical symptoms of anxiety can include fatigue, lethargy, unexplained or persistent physical pain, muscle tension, soreness, swollen lymph nodes, and more. In general, many people feel both physically and mentally exhausted, even if they haven't performed any strenuous activities. People may also experience physical pain throughout the body without a clear cause, which may manifest as swelling or soreness, as in the case of swollen lymph nodes.

Stress and anxiety also have a variety of mental and behavioral symptoms. Common behavioral symptoms can include trouble sleeping, excessive sleep, and changes in appetite and eating habits. Other symptoms may include irritability, excessive worrying, nervousness, feelings of impending dread or doom, loss of interest in usual activities, and more.

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Stress Can Become Overwhelming

If you find yourself suffering from symptoms of stress and anxiety, it's a good idea to check in with a medical professional to share your symptoms and explore a possible diagnosis. Whether you're looking to cure a specific symptom or simply improve your health as a whole, medical professionals can suggest a variety of treatment options that suit your needs.

How To Treat Anxiety And Swollen Lymph Nodes

If you're suffering from stress and anxiety, there are a variety of effective and accessible treatment options. Stress and anxiety are common illnesses that affect many people, and there are proven ways to help reduce their effects. Since everyone is different and responds to treatment differently, it can be helpful to explore a variety of different options to find the one that works best for you!

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. If you're feeling stressed out, try incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on improving mood and physical fitness while reducing excessive worrying and intrusive thoughts. Exercise can also release feel-good hormones into the body that help to reduce emotional symptoms of stress and anxiety. Other lifestyle changes may include eating well, reducing the use of drugs and alcohol, and getting enough sleep each night.

Anxiety Medication

If you're suffering from stress and anxiety, medication prescribed by your doctor may help to manage these symptoms. Everyone reacts differently to different medications, so it may take a few tries to find an option that works best for you. If you suffer from severe symptoms of stress and anxiety, including panic attacks, intrusive thoughts and worries, and other mental and physical symptoms, medication can help you find relief.

Therapy For Anxiety

Whether you experience mild, moderate, or severe stress and anxiety, discussing and exploring your feelings, thoughts, and emotions can be an effective way to process and reduce negative feelings of stress. Understanding your anxiety can be useful in relating to the symptoms associated with it. The Calm Clinic provides free online resources specific to mental health and anxiety. Therapy can also be a great way to explore how you're feeling and the potential causes of your stress. Therapy can also help you to work towards solutions to manage your symptoms and change the way that you react to stressful situations, as well as help you avoid the root causes of stress and anxiety in the first place.

When To Seek Help For Anxiety

Are you suffering from symptoms of stress and anxiety-like swollen lymph nodes? Whether you're experiencing this or other symptoms, stress and anxiety can have a profound negative impact on both your physical and mental health. The good news is that stress and anxiety are common and can be managed effectively! If you're struggling with excessive stress and worry, along with concerning physical symptoms, consider seeking professional help.

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In addition to consulting a doctor or other medical professional, it may also be beneficial to explore the root of your stress and anxiety to help you better navigate your mental health and related symptoms. Therapy can be a great way to explore stress and anxiety in a safe and supportive environment and come up with strategies to deal with stressful situations in the future. While everyone is different, therapy has had a positive impact on many different people!

Therapy For Anxiety

BetterHelp offers a diverse selection of online therapy services that you can access from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Whether you're looking for strategies for coping with stress and anxiety or just need someone to talk to, BetterHelp's licensed therapists can help to navigate life's difficulties and manage your mental health.

Anxiety Treatment Is Available

Struggling with anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms? If you'd like to learn more about the cause of anxiety symptoms, contact us today to start therapy for anxiety.

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