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Can EMF Cause Anxiety: What the Science Says [2024 Update]

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 264 million people worldwide suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. Inarguably, there are a ton of reasons why an individual would develop this problem. But experts say that the dense EMF pollution we face today has also played a significant role in elevating anxiety disorders to epidemic proportions.

In this post, we’ll discuss different types of anxiety disorders, the role EMF plays in its massive growth, and ways you can alleviate your anxiety symptoms. So, let’s begin.

What is Anxiety?

Think about a time you moved to a new place, took an important test, or started a new job where you didn’t know anyone. Did you have symptoms like increased heart rate, feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and dry throat? That’s essentially anxiety.

Anxiety isn’t necessarily bad. It may be uncomfortable at times, but it can motivate you to push harder and do a better job. The problem begins when it becomes a constant theme in your life.

The American Psychiatric Association says that anxiety is the most common form of mental disorder today. And it seems to have been moving in an upward spiral for the last few decades.

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Different Types of Anxiety

Many people seem to confuse anxiety with discomfort interacting with other people or fear of being in the spotlight. But the fact is, that’s just one of the many types of anxiety disorders.

There are primarily six types of anxiety disorders recognized on the DSM-V list.

DSM 5, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5, is a manual for assessing and diagnosing mental disorders. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is responsible for writing and updating this manual based on ongoing research studies.

Here’s the list of anxiety disorders that APA lists in this manual.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder, commonly known as GAD, is a type of anxiety where an individual feels excessive and exaggerated worry about everyday life events. Just to be clear, this is not similar to what you feel when you’re in a situation that poses a threat to your physical life or your social standing.

Individuals suffering from GAD constantly worry about things like health, family, money, work, or school but not in the same way that most people do. They always assume that their experience with these situations will be a complete disaster, and struggle to view most things optimistically.

The American Depression and Anxiety Association (ADAA) says that today, around 6.8 million adults suffer from this problem. And women are more likely to develop it than men.

Here’s a list of a few GAD symptoms:

  • Excessive worry or tension
  • Viewing problems unrealistically
  • Chronic restlessness
  • Crankiness
  • Faster heart rate
  • Faster breathing 
  • Headaches
  • Trouble concentrating

People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder are also prone to developing other problems such as phobias, panic disorder, OCD, chronic depression, and substance abuse.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a type of mental illness that causes an individual to have repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations. It may also force them to do something repeatedly and see problems in arrangements of things that aren’t usually a problem to most people.

Many people seem to confuse OCD with typical behaviors like nail-biting and tapping on the desk while thinking. In reality, OCD is much more severe than these habits that you can quit.

For instance, an OCD individual may have thoughts like certain colors are good or bad. Or the same individual may feel the compulsive need to wash their hands ten times after they touch something they perceive as dirty. And these behaviors are not controllable. They feel powerless with their compulsive needs, even if they want to stop.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a kind of anxiety that causes a sudden feeling of terror without any danger present. Here are some of the symptoms of panic disorders.

  • Faster heart rate
  • Stomach or chest pain
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Dizziness or extreme weakness
  • Relentless sweating
  • Tingly or numb hands

Panic attacks usually don’t have any trigger. They can occur anytime, anywhere, without warning. Most individuals suffering from this problem constantly live in fear of another attack, and they try to avoid places where they’ve already had one. For some, this fear takes over so powerfully that they start to avoid leaving their home altogether.

Researchers say that women are more likely to develop panic disorder compared to men. Also, young adults are more prone to developing this problem.

Panic disorder is more common in women and young adults
Panic disorder is more common in women and young adults.


Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia—no, it’s not a typo or a case of a stuck keyboard. It’s a medical condition that causes people to feel terrified of long words.

A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction to things that are normal to the majority of the population. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, an estimated 19 million Americans suffer from some form of phobia.

With this condition, some may have an extreme fear of tiny spaces, and some may fear darkness so much that it causes them to be immobile when they’re alone in the dark.

This type of anxiety is different from general anxiety disorders, as most of the time, a phobia is connected to something specific.

The intensity of a phobia can range from severely annoying to completely disabling. And it’s not like the patients don’t know that their fears are irrational. They just can’t do anything about it. Phobias can massively interfere with a patient’s work, school, and social life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs in some people who have witnessed or experienced a severely traumatic event.

People suffering from this condition may have intense and disturbing thoughts or feelings related to their experience, even a long time after the incident. Episodic flashbacks and nightmares are common in this condition, which may cause them to feel sadness, extreme anger, and the need to detach from society.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder, or SAD, is the most common type of anxiety disorder in the modern world. It’s sometimes also referred to as social phobia. People suffering from this condition usually try to avoid social situations because of extreme fear.

SAD causes individuals to have trouble meeting new people, talking to people, or even attending social gatherings. They fear that people will judge and scrutinize them. And like the majority of anxiety disorders, SAD sufferers also know that their fears are unreasonable and irrational but feel powerless when they face a social situation.

So, there you have it—six types of anxiety disorders recognized in the DSM-V list. But the question is, what causes people to develop these problems? While it’s pretty clear that PTSD initiates from certain traumatic experiences, for others, it seems like there’s no real root to these problems.

So, let’s have a deeper look at some of these anxiety types and try to locate their potential causes.

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

Every year, anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States alone. And they often don’t have an identifiable root cause.

There are, however, many factors that contribute to anxiety development. Maybe you’re anxious in your workplace because you don’t feel that you’ll succeed in your goals. Perhaps you worry about not getting good grades in exams. Or maybe you’re worried about your financial situation. Experts say that chronic anxiety is also often a result of not reaching out for help when needed.

But scientists have unraveled that the dense EMF pollution in our modern environment is also an underlying cause contributing to the growth in anxiety among the general population. Let’s have a look.

EMF pollution
EMF pollution is dense in our modern, tech-driven environment.

Links Between EMF Exposure and Anxiety

The biological effects of human-made EMF are not a mystery anymore. Scientists have written tens of thousands of research papers confirming their existence. And we know that prolonged exposure to EMF can cause problems ranging from sleeplessness and immunological issues to cardiac diseases and cancer.

But EMF’s ill-effects are not only physiological. Experts say that prolonged exposure can also cause mental health problems like anxiety disorders. So, how does it do that?

EMF & The Human Brain

We, humans, are electrical beings. This means that the organs inside our bodies function because our brain tells them to do so by sending electrical signals through millions of neuronal channels. You may already be familiar with the concept of EMF interference. If you’re not, I’ve explained it in-depth in my “Faraday Cage” post. So, do give it a read.

 In short, when you expose yourself to human-made EMF, which your body is not evolved to work with, it disturbs your brain’s electrical signals. This, in turn, results in several physical and mental health problems.

Here’s a list of some EMF-induced brain problems according to research studies. Have a look:

  • Disruption in regional cerebral blood flow
  • Neuropsychiatric complications
  • Changes in neurobehavioral functions
  • Stress and alterations in learning and memory
  • Amplified risk of glioma
  • Amplified resting electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns
  • Decrease in the amount of nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-positive neurons

So, you see, EMF exposure from common sources like electronic gadgets and electrical appliances can cause significant changes in your brain. If you want to learn more about EMF’s effect on the human brain, I have a separate post that talks about it in-depth.

EMF-Induced Sleeplessness & Anxiety

Psychological researchers say that lack of sleep plays a vital role in setting the stage for the development of anxiety disorders. And apart from unhealthy lifestyles, brain stimulation from electronic gadgets, improper nutrition, and chronic stress, scientists have found that heavy EMF exposure also contributes massively to sleep disorders.

As just one of many examples, in 1999, a group of Iranian researchers demonstrated how magnetic field exposure disrupts sleep.

This study gathered 67 workers with daily occupational EMF exposure and evaluated their sleep quality according to the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaire (PSQI). This study revealed that 90.5% of the EMF exposed subjects experienced poor quality sleep.

In the past three decades, many studies have confirmed the link between prolonged EMF exposure and sleeplessness.

For instance:

  • In 2014 a group of Chinese researchers concluded a thorough cross-sectional study by saying that “occupational EMF exposure was positively associated with poor sleep quality.”
  • Australian researcher Malka N. Halgamuge confirmed that EMF exposure disrupts melatonin production, which results in poor sleep quality.
  • Indian researchers Piyush Gandhi and Nalini Humaney also said that “EMF exposure increases the time it takes you to fall asleep, decreasing your sleep time significantly.”

Hormone Imbalance and Anxiety

Hormones are essentially chemical messengers that regulate the functioning of your body. They’re responsible for almost everything, including physical growth, metabolism, sexual function, mood, and reproduction.

They originate in your endocrine system and travel to different parts of your body. Your brain controls the hormone production, and, when working correctly, it only allows the right volume of hormones to reach the designated area. And I can’t stress how important this is because, if they’re not in the right amount, they can create a ton of physical and mental health problems, including chronic anxiety.

Research studies suggest that prolonged EMF exposure disturbs your endocrine system’s functioning, which causes hormone imbalance in your body. I’ve already written an in-depth post on the link between EMF and hormone imbalance, so give it a read.

Direct Role of EMF on Anxiety Development

By now, it’s pretty clear that EMF causes problems in the human body that can result in mental health problems like anxiety. But it turns out that the role of EMF in anxiety development is not only indirect.

According to a 2006 research paper from the University of Medical Sciences, Iran, “long-term occupational exposure to EMF can create mental health problems like anxiety, depression, psychosis, and hostility.”

Inarguably, this requires further research to identify precisely how or why EMF exposure results in such mental health problems. But I think we can all agree on the fact that avoiding prolonged EMF exposure is certainly the best way to go about it.

What Can You Do?

Before moving forward, I want to make it absolutely clear that this post in no way means to portray EMF exposure as the only cause of anxiety development. There are many other reasons. And if you’re suffering from this problem, you need to take appropriate steps, medically recognized, to alleviate it. So, with that said, here are my recommendations.

See a Professional

If you’re having anxiety symptoms and they’re recurring, it might be a good idea to visit a doctor. But it doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist or a therapist. You can even give your general practitioner (GP) a visit, and they’ll be able to help you with your early symptoms.

See, general practitioners treat problems like anxiety and depression all the time. So, they can help you find ways to deal with your feelings properly.

However, if your condition is severe, you may need to find a good therapist to help you. You can get your GP to refer you to a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Also, be sure never to take medications that aren’t prescribed by a professional. Many people tend to do this. They do a few Google searches and start taking medications without knowing the severity of their condition and the side effects those might have. Always visit a qualified doctor, and let them assess and treat your condition according to scientifically proven protocols.

Limit Your Tech Use

Statistics say that “the average smartphone user touches their device 2,617 times a day, excluding the ones performed when the phone is locked.” And “heavy users, on the other hand, touch their devices 5,427 times a day.”

Today, many people are addicted to their electronic gadgets or the internet. And research says that it doesn’t take much time for tech addiction to turn into chronic anxiety.

This is why it’s important to limit your tech use, even if you’re not experiencing anxiety symptoms. My post “Tech Addiction & EMF” has highly actionable tips that you can start following today to reduce your tech addiction.

Spend Time in the Real World

Serotonin, also called the “mood stabilizer hormone,” regulates your mood, happiness, and anxiety. When your brain produces this hormone in less than the required amount, you become prone to developing problems like anxiety and depression.

And it’s not that hard to get serotonin flowing in your brain.

According to experts, simple sun exposure, meditation, and going out in nature can give you a massive serotonin boost. This doesn’t mean you have to be outside all the time. You can just pick a time in your day to do one of these activities.

Just make sure that your outside activities don’t include using your phone.

Sunlight exposure is a simple way to boost serotonin.
Sunlight exposure is a simple way to boost serotonin.

Mitigate Your EMF Exposure

We’ve already established the role of EMF exposure in creating or turning anxiety symptoms into a severe problem. But you may be glad to know that there’s a way you can prevent it from happening to you. And that’s by mitigating your EMF exposure.

Mitigating EMF exposure certainly seems tough, given the amount of EMF sources present around us today. But you need to realize that the more significant threat is not actually from the EMF pollution in the environment but from the EMF sources inside your home that are in your control.

See, the power of EMF weakens with distance. This means that EMF from, say, your neighbors’ devices is not so much of a problem. Because, by the time those devices’ emissions reach you, they’re much weaker. Check out my “EMF Safe Distance” post for more information.

What you need to be more aware of is the EMF coming from the devices inside your home or the ones you carry in your pocket. We’ve created a simple method using which you can reduce your EMF exposure from these devices. We call it “Minimize Use & Maximize Distance.”

Minimize Use & Maximize Distance

The first rule of this method is to minimize your tech use. It’s super easy; you just have to cut down your unnecessary use of devices. For instance, you can turn off your WiFi router at night when you’re not using it. Or, instead of scrolling through social media unnecessarily, you can take up a hobby that you can pursue offline.

The second rule of this method is to maximize your distance with technology.  Always try to keep your gadgets far away from your body, remembering that every inch counts.

You can do simple things like carrying your phone in a bag or a holster pouch instead of putting it in your pocket or bra.

We also recommend keeping your WiFi router at least 5 meters away from the area where you spend the most time.

Doing these things will reduce your EMF exposure exponentially and allow you to live a safer, healthier life without having to quit the convenience of technology.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from anxiety, don’t be disappointed. It’s a common and completely curable problem.

The ADAA, or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, puts it this way: “The thoughts you resist, persist.” So, the first thing you need to do is to accept the fact that you’re anxious. Don’t try to fight it. Tell yourself that this is a normal response by my body to a complicated, challenging, and stressful situation. And it’s certainly okay to feel this way.

Never judge yourself for having anxiety. It’s not in your control. Instead, focus on positive things in your life. Talk to your loved ones, visit a professional, and take good care of yourself.

You are much more than your anxiety. So, stay strong, and it will pass.

Where do you carry your phone?

Want to Slash Your EMF Health Risks?

Good! Learn the one small change you should make right now.

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About the Author

R Blank is the CEO of Shield Your Body, which he founded in 2012. With hundreds of thousands of customers in over 30 countries, and having been interviewed on platforms including Dr. Phil, ABC news television and ElectricSense, R is an internationally followed expert on issues of EMF, health and safety. He also hosts “The Healthier Tech Podcast”, available Apple, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms. In the past, he served on the faculty at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering as well as the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previously, R ran a software engineering firm in Los Angeles, producing enterprise-level solutions for blue chip clients including Medtronic, Apple, NBC, Toyota, Disney, Microsoft, the NFL, Ford, IKEA and Mattel. He has spoken at conferences around the world, including in the US, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and he is the co-author, along with his father Dr. Martin Blank, of ‘Overpowered‘ from Seven Stories Press about the science of health effects of EMF radiation. He has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and received his bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Columbia University. He has also studied at Cambridge University in the UK; the University of Salamanca in Spain; and the Institute of Foreign Languages in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Read more about R and SYB or connect with R on LinkedIn.

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R Blank

R Blank