Anxiety Buzzing Sensations

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated April 25, 2022

buzzing sensations anywhere on or in the body

Buzzing Sensations, like a sudden vibrating, electric zap, or tremor feeling anywhere on or in the body is a common anxiety disorder symptom, including anxiety and panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, and others.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and having buzzing sensations anywhere on or in the body.

Common Buzzing Sensation Symptom Descriptions

  • You have a buzzing sensation anywhere on or in the body, and there isn’t any physical or medical reason for it.
  • It feels like parts of your body, or your entire body, is buzzing or vibrating like an electrical current is shocking it.
  • It feels like parts of your body, or your entire body, is buzzing as is a vibrator is touching it.
  • This buzzing sensation can feel like your cellular phone is ringing on “vibrate.”
  • This buzzing sensation can seem rhythmic, cyclic, or random with no particular pattern. It can also seem rhythmic for a while, random for a while, or alternate back and forth between rhythmic and random.

This symptom can affect only one part of the body, shift and affect another part or parts, and migrate all over and affect many or all parts of the body.

This symptom can:

  • Occur occasionally, frequently, or persistently.
  • Precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety symptoms or occur by itself.
  • Precede, accompany, or follow a period of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and stress, or occur "out of the blue" and for no reason.
  • Range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe.
  • Come in waves where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.
  • Change from day to day and moment to moment.

While some people might be able to control their buzzing sensations by calming themselves down or by tightening and loosening their muscles, others might not. This symptom often occurs involuntarily, meaning it occurs by itself, and there isn’t anything you can do to stop it.

Some people experience a buzzing sensation when moving body parts that are affected, while others experience this sensation regardless of movement.

It’s also common for this symptom to occur intermittently for no apparent reason. For example, you could be resting when suddenly and for no apparent reason, a part of your body begins to feel like it’s buzzing/vibrating/trembling. Then, moments later, it subsides only to return at another time even though you haven’t changed position or done anything to alleviate the feeling.

All the above combinations and variations are common.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test, Anxiety Disorder Test, or Hyperstimulation Test.

The higher the rating, the more likely anxiety could be contributing to or causing your anxiety symptoms, including feeling like impending doom symptoms.

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Causes

Medical Advisory

Talk to your doctor about all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms as some medical conditions and medications can cause anxiety-like symptoms.

Additional Medical Advisory Information.

When this symptom is caused by stress, including anxiety-caused stress:

1. Effects of the stress response

Anxious behavior, such as worry, activates the stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream. They travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that prepare the body for emergency action — to fight or flee.

This survival reaction is often referred to as the fight or flight response, the emergency response, the fight, flight, or freeze response (some people freeze when they are afraid, like a “deer caught in headlights”), or the fight, flight, freeze, or faint response (since some people faint when they are afraid).[1][2]

Some of these stress response changes include:

  • Quickly converts the body’s energy reserves into “fuel” (blood sugar) to have an instant boost of energy.
  • Stimulates the body, especially the nervous system (which includes the brain), to detect and react to danger more quickly.
  • Heightens most of the body’s senses to be more keenly aware of and reactive to danger.
  • Tightens muscles so that the body is more resilient to damage.
  • Shunts blood to parts of the body more vital to survival, such as the brain, arms, legs, and vital organs, and away from parts less vital for survival, such as the stomach, digestive system, and skin.

To name a few.

Visit our “Stress Response” article for more information about its many changes.

The higher the degree of stress response, the more dramatic the changes.

Any one or combination of these changes can cause a buzzing sensation anywhere on or in the body.

central and peripheral nervous system

For instance, heightened nervous system activity can cause erratic “buzzing” sensations throughout the body since the nervous system extends throughout the body.

A sudden increase in energy and stimulation, muscles tightening, increased sensory perception, and blood shunted around the body can also cause erratic “buzzing” sensations as the body prepares for action.

Since these survival changes push the body beyond its balance point (equilibrium), stress responses stress the body. As such, anxiety stresses the body.

Stress is a common cause of “buzzing” anywhere on or in the body.

Many people report having a buzzing,” “trembling,” or “zapping” feeling when they are nervous, anxious, or stressed.[3][4]

Some people say they have a “case of the nerves” when they buzz, tremble, shake, or vibrate when nervous, anxious, or stressed.

Buzzing anywhere on or in the body is a common indication of anxiety and stress.

2. Hyperstimulation (chronic stress)

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body quickly recovers from the many stress response changes.

However, when stress responses occur too often, such as from overly anxious behavior, the body can remain in a state of semi-stress response readiness, we call “stress-response hyperstimulation” since stress hormones are powerful stimulants.

Hyperstimulation is also often referred to as “hyperarousal,” “HPA axis dysfunction,” or “nervous system dysregulation.”[4][5]

Hyperstimulation (chronic stress) can keep stress response changes even though a stress response hasn’t been activated.

Visit our “Hyperstimulation” article for more information about the many ways hyperstimulation can affect the body and how we feel.

As the severity of hyperstimulation increases, symptoms of hyperstimulation, such as buzzing sensations, can also increase. There are many reasons for this.

Nervous System Excitation And Dysregulation

neuron anatomy

For instance, the body’s nervous system is responsible for sending and receiving sensory information to and from the brain. Specialized cells called “neurons” (nerve cells) are a main component of the nervous system that communicate with each other using an electrochemical process (the combination of electricity and chemistry).

When nerve impulse information is received from one of the body’s senses, neurons relay this nerve impulse information through the nervous system network to the brain for interpretation.

For example, if we want to move a particular muscle or group of muscles, nerve impulse information is sent from the brain through the nervous system network to the particular muscle or groups of muscles to bring about movement (muscles move through a combination of nerve impulse-triggered muscle contractions and releases).

nerves and muscles

This nervous system communication and reaction system performs normally when the body and nervous system are healthy. However, problems can occur when the body and nervous system become hyperstimulated.[5][6]

For instance, because of their electrochemical properties, neurons are particularly sensitive to stress hormone stimulation. When the nervous system becomes hyperstimulated, it can act erratically, causing a multitude of sensory and nervous system irregularities.[6][7]

Moreover, because hyperstimulation can increase the electrical activity in parts of the brain, the nervous system can act even more erratically when the body and nervous system become hyperstimulated.[8]

The combination of the above factors can cause many odd and bizarre symptoms, including a “buzzing” feeling anywhere on or in the body.

Like all hyperstimulation symptoms, the frequency, intensity, and duration of buzzing sensations can increase as the severity of hyperstimulation increases.

Sleep deprivation

Buzzing sensations can also be aggravated by a lack of sleep. A lack of sleep causes an increase in the level of circulating cortisol, a powerful stress hormone stimulant,[9][10] which also stresses and stimulates the body, especially the nervous system.

Many sleep-deprived people get buzzing sensations until their sleep debt is caught up and the body’s level of stimulation is reduced.

3. Side effects of medication

Many medications, including common psychotropic medications (anti-anxiety, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, etc.) can cause buzzing in the extremities as a side effect.

If you think your buzzing symptoms might be related to your medication, talk with your doctor and pharmacist about options.

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Other Factors

Other factors can stress the body, causing and contributing to this symptom, such as:

Select the relevant link for more information.

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Treatment

When this symptom is caused or aggravated by other factors, addressing those factors can reduce and eliminate it.

When this symptom is caused by anxious behavior and active stress response, ending the stress response will end its changes. This symptom should subside as your body recovers from the active stress response.

Keep in mind 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 this symptom is caused by hyperstimulation (chronic stress), eliminating hyperstimulation will end this anxiety symptom.

You can eliminate hyperstimulation by:

  • Reducing stress.
  • Containing anxious behavior (since anxiety creates stress).
  • Regular deep relaxation.
  • Avoiding stimulants.
  • Regular light to moderate exercise.
  • Getting regular good sleep.
  • Eating a healthy diet of whole and natural foods.
  • Passively-accepting your symptoms until they subside.
  • Being patient as your body recovers.

Visit our “60 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress” article for more ways to reduce stress.

As the body recovers from hyperstimulation, it stops sending symptoms of hyperstimulation, including buzzing sensations.

Hyperstimulation symptoms subside as the body regains its normal, non-hyperstimulated health.

However, eliminating hyperstimulation can take much longer than most people think, causing symptoms to linger longer than expected.

As long as the body is even slightly hyperstimulated, it can present symptoms of any type, number, intensity, duration, frequency, and at any time, including this one.

Anxiety symptoms often linger because:

  • The body is still being stressed (from stressful circumstances or anxious behavior).
  • Your stress hasn't diminished enough or for long enough.
  • Your body hasn't completed its recovery work.

Addressing the reason for lingering symptoms will allow the body to recover.

Most often, lingering anxiety symptoms ONLY remain because of the above reasons. They AREN'T a sign of a medical problem. This is especially true if you have had your symptoms evaluated by your doctor, and they have been solely attributed to anxiety or stress.

Since worrying and becoming upset about anxiety symptoms stress the body, these behaviors can interfere with recovery.

Passively accepting your symptoms – allowing them to persist without reacting to, resisting, worrying about, or fighting them – while doing your recovery work will cause their cessation in time.

Acceptance, practice, and patience are key to recovery.

Since the body can take a long time to recover from hyperstimulation, it's best to faithfully work at your recovery despite the lack of apparent progress.

You also have to do your recovery work FIRST before your body can recover. The cumulative effects of your recovery work will produce results down the road. And the body's stimulation has to diminish before symptoms can subside.

If you persevere with your recovery work, you will succeed.

Remember: Focusing on your sensations and symptoms makes them more pronounced. If you'd like to lessen their impact, learn to focus your attention elsewhere through distraction, enjoying your hobbies, undertaking pleasing and calming activities, regular deep relaxation, and by recalling pleasant memories or experiences.

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Short-term strategies

Even though eliminating hyperstimulation will eliminate chronic anxiety symptoms, including buzzing sensations, some people have found the following strategies helpful in reducing episodes of this symptom in the short-term.

However, keep in mind that each person can have a unique symptom experience since each person is somewhat physically, chemically, psychologically, and emotionally unique. What might work for one person might not for another.

Reduce stress – Since stress, including anxiety-caused stress, is a common cause of buzzing sensations, reducing stress can reduce episodes of this symptom.

Any stress reduction strategy can help improve this symptom. Visit our article “60 Ways To Reduce Stress And Anxiety” for natural stress reduction strategies.

Regular good sleep – Regular good sleep can reduce stress, cortisol, and the body’s overall level of stimulation. Their reduction can reduce and eliminate anxiety symptoms, including this one.

Regular deep relaxation – Deep relaxation reduces the body’s overall level of stimulation and stress, leading to a reduction in anxiety symptoms, including buzzing sensations.

Regular light to moderate exercise – Regular light to moderate exercise can reduce stress and use up excess cortisol, which can help reduce anxiety symptoms, including this one.

Avoid stimulants – Stimulants, such as caffeine, bring about their stimulating effect by increasing circulating cortisol, the body’s most powerful stress hormone. To help the body recover from hyperstimulation, we need to reduce the production of stress hormones and stimulation, not increase it. A reduction in stress and stimulation can help reduce symptoms of hyperstimulation, including buzzing sensations.

Contain your anxiousness – Since anxiety activates the stress response, which causes anxiety and hyperstimulation symptoms, containing your anxiousness about this anxiety symptom can help reduce and eliminate it, even in the short term.

The more successful you are in containing your anxiousness, the more opportunity your body has to reduce stress and stimulation. A reduction in stress and stimulation can reduce episodes of buzzing sensations.

Keep well hydrated – Dehydration can cause anxiety-like symptoms and aggravate existing anxiety symptoms. Keeping your body well hydrated can reduce and eliminate anxiety symptoms, including episodes of buzzing sensations.

Therapy

Unidentified and unaddressed underlying factors cause issues with anxiety. As such, they are the primary reason why anxiety symptoms persist.[11][12][13]

Addressing your underlying factors (Level Two recovery) is most important if you want lasting success.

Addressing Level Two recovery can help you:

  • Contain anxious behavior.
  • Become unafraid of anxiety symptoms and the strong feelings of anxiety.
  • End anxiety symptoms.
  • Successfully address the underlying factors that so often cause issues with anxiety.
  • End what can feel like out-of-control worry.

All our recommended anxiety therapists have had anxiety disorder and overcame it. Their personal experience with anxiety disorder and their Master's Degree and above professional training gives them insight other therapists don't have.

If you want to achieve lasting success over anxiety disorder, any one of our recommended therapists would be a good choice.

Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to treat anxiety disorder, especially if you have persistent symptoms and difficulty containing anxious behavior, such as worry.

In many cases, working with an experienced therapist is the only way to overcome stubborn anxiety.

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Prevalence

In an online poll we conducted, just over 71 percent of respondents said they had buzzing sensations due to their anxiety. As you can see, “buzzing sensations” is a common anxiety symptom.

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call 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 address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including buzzing sensations anxiety symptoms.

References

1. Folk, Jim, and Liashko, Vitaly. “The Stress Response.” anxietycentre.com, April 2022.

2. Godoy, Livea, et al. "A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications." Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience, 3, July 2018.

3. “Tremor Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 6 July 2018.

4. Patriquin, Michelle A., and Sanjay J. Mathew. “The Neurobiological Mechanisms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Chronic Stress.” Chronic Stress (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017.

5. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015.

6. Z, Fatahi, et al. "Effect of acute and subchronic stress on electrical activity of basolateral amygdala neurons in conditioned place preference paradigm: An electrophysiological study." Behavioral Brain Research, 29 Sept. 2017.

7. Justice, Nicholas J., et al. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-Like Induction Elevates β-Amyloid Levels, Which Directly Activates Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Neurons to Exacerbate Stress Responses.” Journal of Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience, 11 Feb. 2015.

8. Laine, Mikaela A, et al. “Brain Activation Induced by Chronic Psychosocial Stress in Mice.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017.

9. Leproult, R, et al. “Sleep Loss Results in an Elevation of Cortisol Levels the next Evening.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 1997.

10. Palesh, Oxana, et al. “Vagal Regulation, Cortisol, and Sleep Disruption in Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer.” The Journal Of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 15, Oct. 2008.

11. Hofmann, Stefan G., et al. “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses.” Cognitive Therapy and Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2012.

12. Leichsenring, Falk. “Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the Gold Standard for Psychotherapy?” JAMA, American Medical Association, 10 Oct. 2017.

13. DISCLAIMER: Because each body is somewhat chemically unique, and because each person will have a unique mix of symptoms and underlying factors, recovery results may vary. Variances can occur for many reasons, including due to the severity of the condition, the ability of the person to apply the recovery concepts, and the commitment to making behavioral change.