Head Shakes/ Neck tension


So I don’t know if this is related to social anxiety but I was doing research and saw a lot of stories that I can relate to on here. I made an anonymous account because I really don’t know what to do at this point and this seems to be taking over my life.

I’m in my last year of high school and I started getting headshakes about 3 months ago (new years day) while I was at a lunch with family friends. I remember it so vividly and the fear and confusion I was feeling when it happened. I brought a glass of water to my mouth and it felt like my neck almost froze then started shaking. These were super quick shakes but it was the longest feeling I’ve ever felt. That day I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was so embarrassing, but I then came to the conclusion that it was just the alcohol from the night before. I quickly forgot about it until I went to an event with my parents and there were a lot of my parents’ friends there who I had conversations with. I was fine talking to them while standing, but then as we went to the dinner table, that’s when things got horrible for me. While I was having a conversation with one of my dad’s friends, I picked up a glass as he was talking. As I went to put my lips on the glass, my neck tended up and shook so quickly but I knew he noticed it. After that I felt a lot of embarrassment and I remained quiet, lowkey and blunt. I then had to leave because I couldn’t take it anymore. Why is this happening to me?

Another time was last month, when I had an incredible opportunity to meet someone very well known. I admired his work and was thrilled to meet him. Throughout our whole conversation however, my neck was so tense, just waiting to jolt or make my head shake. I was so interested and intrigued by what he was saying to me and another 2 students next to me, when suddenly he looks at me in the eye mid sentence and my neck feels like it’s about to burst. I tried to stop it but it was completely out of my control. My head shook for less than a second but I still pray that he didn’t notice it.

Lately it’s been getting worse. My neck feels constantly tense and it makes me want to avoid social situations at all costs. I was giving out handouts in class and all throughout i could just feel my neck tensing up, about to shake. I also can rarely move my neck without their being the smallest jolt or twitch. I do t know what’s wrong with me and it’s beginning to terrify me. My best friend invited me to dinner with his family this weekend and I want to go so badly but I don’t know if I can because I’m scared that I’ll look stupid.

I want to talk to someone about this but I’m worried they won’t understand or they’ll think it’s silly. At this point I really don’t know what to do and how to stop it. I’m not a person who tends to be socially awkward or worry about things all the time. In fact, I’m pretty outgoing and I love meeting new people so I don’t know where this condition came from. Next year I’ll be going to my dream college and I can’t wait but I’m also terrified that whatever is going on with me will impact my ability to connect with new people and enjoy my time at college. It’s a huge relief to know I’m not alone but I’m just sick of it and will try anything to stop it. Last month I went through 2 weeks where I was just totally depressed and angry because of it. I was a different person.

I made this anonymous post because I wanted to talk directly to someone who might understand what I’m going through at the moment. Please if you have even the littlest knowledge of what this is/ how to stop it then let me know because I’m terrified this will take over my life. Thank you.


Perhaps you might enter into this discussion:


Hi there,
I can completely relate as this used to happen to me before I was diagnosed. Sertraline is the only med that really helped although there are side effects. The point is please get help. There is help you understand; you cannot afford to try to fix this on your own. Avoiding people and places is a HORRIBLE way to exist.


I’ve dealt with this and deal with very intense feeling symptoms at times. The therapy can be very helpful but it takes time, practice, and patience. The Social anxiety Automatic Cycle is a handout in the series and talks about these types of social anxiety symptoms and why it happens and how to get better. That and the correlating session where this handout is discussed in the series, I believe it’s session 12, are very helpful in their discussion of these types of issues and have provided me with much needed relief at times. You should perhaps review them if you want to. However, I’d recommend you go through the series step by step as it’s just a symptom of social anxiety. I do realize it can feel extremely intense because I’m dealing with and have dealt with similar stuff. For the record, I’m just a series user and not a professional.

Good luck.


Hi there… I can 100% relate. It’s a very depressing way to live, especially when it seems like NO ONE else has this problem! I’ve tried to heal myself without meds (meditation, diet change, EFT, etc), but I think that I need to just take something if I want to live a happy, social life! Did you end up getting prescribed something?


I realize this is a topic of intense interest, especially to those who worry/suffer about this issue more than others. This is the same for those who focus on the aspect of blushing, sweating, etc. To be rational, with social anxiety - yes, it SEEMS like no one else is experiencing these difficulties we have and all these crazy thoughts, but we know that’s not true. If we can go by the numbers that Dr. Richards uses based upon scientific research studies, it could be that 7% of a population suffers from social anxiety. Of that 7% a certain portion would have related symptoms/worries/concerns about specific things such as head shakes/neck tenstion (take your pick on the specific example). Looking at this discussion board alone, this topic is one of the most viewed - roughly 30,000 views alone on the largest thread for this discussion.

Yes, we feel alone. Yes, we often keep ourselves alone because of social anxiety. We come to this forum to find solutions, to share, to discuss. We find that indeed we are not alone. We find that in fact MANY people relate to this problem and all the other ways we may go about thinking and relating to the world through a socially anxious lens, and we see that people are doing the same there also.

We also learn here that there are numerous symptoms - come up with a list as long as you like and we could still add more. And these are symptoms of anxiety. The symptoms are not the central problem. The central issue creating the symptoms is the anxiety.

To help with social anxiety disorder, to overcome it, there are years of research, studies, experience that CBT for social anxiety is an effective treatment program, with long-term lasting results. Not meditation, not diet, not EFT. Meditating can be a great habit, one that helps calm you down. Great - do that for yourself. Eating a healthy, balanced diet - that is an excellent choice for your overall physical health, too. These are not solutions for brain retraining, for a learning therapy - and that’s what you need to change a brain system which is actively supporting and allowing social anxiety to thrive. Let’s take another example - exercise. Perfectly excellent, healthy habit to get into. Yes, it will benefit your life and your mood. Exercise alone is not the answer to overcoming a diagnosable case of social anxiety disorder.

Physical symptoms that result from social anxiety have their root in the adrenaline, cortisol reaction in our bodies. There may be some outlier, very rare physical results that come about for some people, but these are no where near the majority and what I see discussed here falls into the category of common physical symptoms of social anxiety. When our bodies get hyped up, these physical symptoms have a chance to occur and then after time and reinforcement, we naturally focus on those symptoms and they become strong identifiers in our minds, strong enough to feel as if they are a problem singular to themselves, independent of the underlying social anxiety. Then one may go looking for other cures, magic diets, current trends that we hope can cure a symptom.

“NO ONE ELSE has this problem”… think about it - this is a relatively small forum, and yet there are over 30K views on this topic if you add up the threads which continue to be made independently of the major thread running on this topic. I know the worry about physical symptoms - I went through that myself. I thought it WAS the problem. I thought I could be fine if only that physical symptom could be done away with. Somehow, perhaps dumb luck, I stayed with the CBT therapy instead, and that made the difference. That dealt with the underlying social anxiety (the real issue here) and thus, naturally, it helped me get rid of the physical symptoms also.

We can’t “tap” social anxiety away. We can’t “organic food” overcome this thing. We can’t “meditate” it away. We can retrain our brain, thoughts and feelings about it over time gradually through CBT. That we can do.

My post here is the kind that may likely attract more backlash and disagreement. People want to discuss other trendy supposed fixes for this. Heck, I hear things and it all sounds great at first - if only that was backed by real research and real results. You can’t “talk therapy” this away either - something we all seem drawn to want to do, or expect that as being the definition of how psychology should go. You can use comprehensive cognitive behavioral therapy specifically designed for social anxiety though, and it takes your effort and time to realize it, but that is what is documented, tested, real. And I post this with the full realization that I’ll be in for rebuttles and counter-arguments. But I’d rather post what is a solution for someone in this situation, dealing with real social anxiety disorder, than chime in to make you feel good about diet alone being the “cure-all holistic” way to anxiety free mental health. If all this discussion were available when I was looking for a solution to what was a confusing problem for me, I wonder if I would have even been able to choose the correct path, the one that I did, and the one which ultimately made it possible to get out of that nightmare.


After I posted this earlier today, I had a discussion with Dr. Richards on this topic. I’ve been around this topic (SAD), and the CBT therapy related to social anxiety for a long while now. I feel to some degree that I understand it. I went through it also, as a sufferer, then as an “Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step” series user, then as a behavioral group member, then as a group leader / coach of sorts. As part of my job, I help to admin these discussions here in this community.

Most of the questions fall into the same categories - that’s perfectly fine, perfectly understandable. We are each arriving to these questions and solutions at different times. We each have the right to be new to the information and to ask questions. I go with my feeling on the best advice here, what I feel has been true for me, what I’ve seen to be true for hundreds of people that have gone through the groups in my time here, thousands of conversations on this with both people I know here involved, people emailing, people calling.

At times I still want to check with Dr. Richards - he’s the psychologist. He’s the licensed professional. He’s the creator of the therapy series and has been helping see people with social anxiety since around 1994. I wanted to confirm, or get corrected on my views, on this topic. What if, I ask myself, there is some point where certain symptoms go so far that they become something unique, an outlier, something more serious that deserves attention beyond social anxiety? That was my intention, when I spoke to him this moring.

I always answer here, on various posts, to look at the center of the issue - social anxiety - and to try to stay away from focusing too much on specific symptom solutions. In my personal notes, as an idea for a supplemental handout, I have the phrase “symptom distraction” written down. That is how I would describe what happens with some of us who get so tied up in focusing on that symptom rather than seeing the bigger picture. I’ve been there - I know how that feels.

So, I ask him - is there any point at which my earlier answer becomes incorrect? Am I insenstitive to an issue which may outgrow my experience on this? We had a particular case years ago of a person who came here for help with overcoming social anxiety, and that person was dealing with something else, too. Was that “thing” (I won’t go into details) - was that thing an example of something that goes beyond social anxiety for the reasons of this topic here?

To summarize Dr. Richards’ response to me, he said no - in essence, my feeling on this post was correct. He then related how he had all the same experiences himself with facial freezing, twitching, trembling. He talked about personal stories of his which made me remember when some of those things had happened to me. He said how they were symptoms, again caused by the build up of all this, adrenaline, cortisol, social anxiety. Those symptoms he had, like you describe, are not to be handled differently than the same way of going at correctly dealing with social anxiety CBT.

A quick look at the discussions in this community:
This thread alone has about 1,000 views now, while an earlier thread on “Head Shaking” has just under 30,000 views. “Frozen face” has around 15,000 views. “Eye Contact” 12,800 views, while “Eye watering” has another 5,700 views. “Blushing” with 7,200 views, “Fear of Trembling” 6,100 views, and this is just my quick look at the top views… not going deeper to find all the smaller threads which would add onto these same themes. Then you have “Diets” with almost 11,000 views, and “Herbal Supplements” with another 5,700 views.

Symptom distraction … solution distraction.

It’s good to discuss these things. It’s right to address these things. It’s right to look for the correct path/solutions for social anxiety. It’s right to be rational with the correct path for help in overcoming social anxiety disorder. It’s right to be healthy in life, have a good diet if you want to, exercise, yep. There are plenty of people who eat terribly and don’t have social anxiety. It’s important here to keep in mind what’s worth focusing on for rational solutions for overcoming social anxiety… which naturally involves everything that comes out of that, including related physical symptoms. Keep the focus where it should be.