Numbness, Tingling in the Hands, Feet, Face, Head, or Anywhere on the Body Anxiety Symptoms
Numbness, Tingling Anxiety Symptoms description:
The numbness, tingling anxiety symptoms are often described as:
- It feels like your skin or muscles are numb and tingling.
- It feels like your skin is numb and tingly.
- It feels like your skin, muscle(s), or body part has been anesthetized.
- It can also feel like your skin, muscle(s), or body parts are itchy, prickly feeling, goosebumpy.
- It can also feel as if your skin, muscle(s), or body parts have a tickle feeling or "crawly" sensation.
- This symptom is often described as having your skin ‘frozen’ numb to the touch.
- Your skin can feel ‘numb’ to the touch and/or tingling under the surface, yet with no visible marks.
Even though you are experiencing one, many, or all of the above, repeated visual inspections of the affected areas show no skin abnormalities.
This numbness and tingling sensation can affect the skin or muscles in your arms, hands, fingers, toes, legs, feet, head, face, stomach, face, or anywhere on or in the body.
This numbness and tingling sensation can persistently affect one area only, can shift and affect another area or areas, and can migrate all over and affect many areas over and over again.
This numbness and tingling sensation can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel a pins and needles feeling once and a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel it all the time.
This numbness and tingling sensation may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.
This numbness and tingling sensation can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.
This numbness and tingling sensation can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.
This numbness and tingling sensation can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.
All of the above combinations and variations are common.
What causes the numbness and tingling anxiety symptoms?
Behaving anxiously activates the stress response. The stress response immediately causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it—which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.
Part of the stress response changes include putting the nervous system on high alert (which makes it more sensitive and reactive), tightening the body's muscles to make them more resilient to damage, and shunting the body's blood around so that parts of the body that are vital for survival have more blood and those less vital to survival have less. These three actions alone (there are a great many more) can cause a wide variety of odd sensations and feelings, such as numb and tingly sensations.
When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can result in the body remaining in a semi hyperstimulated state, since stress hormones are stimulants. A body that becomes stress-response hyperstimulated can exhibit similar sensations and symptoms to that of an active stress response, such as feeling a numb and tingling feeling on the skin, in the muscles, or anywhere on or in the body.
How to get rid of the numbness and tingling anxiety symptom?
When these numbness and tingling feelings are caused by apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, calming yourself down will bring an end to the stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, these numbness and tingling feelings should subside and you should return to your normal self. Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
When these numbness and tingling feelings are caused by persistent stress, it may take a lot more time for the body to recover and to the point where this symptom is eliminated.
Nevertheless, when the body has fully recovered, these numbness and tingling feelings will completely subside. Therefore, this symptom needn’t be a cause for concern.
You can speed up the recovery process by reducing your stress, practicing relaxed breathing, increasing your rest and relaxation, and not worrying about these numbness and tingling feelings. Sure, they can be unsettling, but again, when your body has recovered from the stress response and/or sustained stress, these numbness and tingling feelings will completely disappear.
For a more detailed explanation about anxiety symptoms including these numbness and tingling feelings, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.
The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to overcome anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - we call these core causes the underlying factors of anxiety - a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to eliminate problematic anxiety and its symptoms once and for all.
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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated June 2015.