Numbness (Sensory loss; Paresthesias; Numbness and Tingling; Loss of sensation):
Common descriptions for the numbness anxiety symptom:
- You feel as though a part of your skin or body feels numb to the touch.
- It may also feel like it has been frozen with anesthesia.
- This numbness feeling can feel as though you have frozen that part of the skin from exposure to frigid temperatures.
- This numbness feeling can also feel as if your skin has no feeling or sensation at all.
- This numbness patch may be small or encompass many parts of the body such as an arm, hand, finger, face, mouth, lips, tongue, leg, foot, or toe, or all of them.
- While numbness can occur anywhere on the body, it’s most common on the hands, feet, arms, and legs.
- Numbness can also be accompanied by tingling, pins and needles, and burning skin sensations.
This numbness feeling 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 feeling can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel a numbness feeling once and a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel it all the time.
This numbness feeling may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.
This numbness feeling 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 feeling 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 feeling 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 anxiety symptom?
Anxiety causes the body to produce the stress response (also known as the fight or flight response). The stress response changes how the body functions and adversely affects the nervous system, which is responsible for sending and receiving nerve impulse information from the nerve endings and sensory organs in the body to the brain, and back again.
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 nervous system that becomes stress-response hyperstimulated can act erratically and more involuntarily than normal. This erratic and more involuntary behavior can cause a wide variety of odd and unusual sensory and nerve related sensations and symptoms, such as numbness anywhere on the body.
We provide a more complete explanation in the Recovery Support area of our website.
How to get rid of the numbness anxiety symptom?
Because this symptom is just a symptom of elevated stress and how it affects the body, nervous system, and sensory organs, it needn't be a cause for concern. This numbness feeling will subside when you reduce your stress and give your body ample time to recover. As your body's stress returns to a more normal level, symptoms of stress subside, including the numbness anxiety symptom. Therefore, anxiety caused numbness needn't be a cause for concern.
Chapter 9 in the Recovery Support area of our website is our anxiety symptoms chapter. It contains detailed information about all anxiety symptoms, including what they are, why they occur, what you can do to eliminate them, and how many people experience them (the percentage of people who experience each anxiety symptom). Our anxiety symptoms chapter includes a more detailed description and explanation about the numbness anxiety symptom.
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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated April 2015.