More Proof Mental and Physical Health Are Linked: Stress Can Cause Fevers

Lauren Pardee
Sick at home series with a japanese man and woman.
Sick at home series with a japanese man and woman.

All the more proof that your mental health directly correlates with your physical well-being: stress can, in fact, trigger a fever.

Although stress fevers are uncommon, Dr. Bindiya Gandhi, MD, a medical director and family medicine physician at Revive Atlanta MD, confirmed they can occur, especially in those who suffer from anxiety or chronic stress: "In rare instances, stress can cause a 'psychogenic' or 'neurogenic' fever, meaning without having an active acute infection from a virus or bacteria but chronic stress, instead."

According to Dr. Gandhi, stress fevers are often triggered by an event or situation (from lack of sleep to poor eating habits to traumatic incidents like car accidents and divorce) accompanying an increase in core body temperature.

Related: How to Tell If You Have a Fever: 12 Ways to Know For Sure

Symptoms of a Fever
Symptoms of a Fever

Stress fevers - which range from low-grade fevers to high temperatures - have almost identical symptoms to other fever types but require very different treatments, Dr. Gandhi said. That's why understanding your stress history is important for receiving a proper diagnosis.

An antipyretic, like acetaminophen, is usually prescribed to temper an infection-related fever. But in the case of a stress fever, Dr. Gandhi noted that talk therapy or medication that treats anxiety-related disorders are most effective.

If you're concerned that stress could be the root of your fever, the first step to treatment is seeing a physician, Dr. Gandhi said, adding they should have you do cognitive-behavioral therapy or see a psychiatrist or neurologist for further evaluation.

"Ultimately, reducing your stress and how you react to the trigger is going to be the key," she said.

You heard it straight from a doctor herself: your mental health can show itself in the form of physical ailments - adding to the many reasons feeling good is linked to deep-rooted healing.

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