Numbness Tingling Anxiety Symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated February 20, 2022

numbness tingling anxiety symptoms

Numbness, tingling, paresthesia feelings, feeling like your skin is anesthetized, and having a tingling sensation anywhere on or in the body is a common anxiety disorder symptom.

It can occur with any type of anxiety disorder, such as anxiety and panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias, to name a few.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and numbness and tingling symptoms.

Numbness Tingling (Sensory loss; Paresthesia; Numbness and Tingling; Loss of sensation) common symptom descriptions:

  • It feels like your skin is numb, tingling, or both.
  • It can feel like a part of the skin or body has lost sensation (sensory loss).
  • It can feel like your skin feels numb to the touch.
  • It feels like your skin, muscle(s), or any part of the body has been frozen or anesthetized.
  • It can also feel as if your skin, muscle(s), or body part has a numbing "crawly" sensation.
  • Some people experience such numbness that even pricking the skin with a pin produces little pain and seemingly much less than usual.
  • Your skin can feel numb to the touch or tingling under the surface, yet there are no visible marks of injury.
  • This symptom can feel like you have peripheral neuropathy where the body part feels numb to the touch and is sensationless.
  • This numb 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.

This numb and tingling feeling can affect the skin or muscles in your arms, hands, fingers, toes, legs, feet, head, face, stomach, mouth, tongue, lips, or anywhere on or in the body.

This numb and tingling feeling can only affect one area, shift and affect another area or area, and migrate all over and affect many areas.

This common anxiety symptom can occur anywhere on or in the body and can affect all parts of the body or a part of a part. For instance, the entire tongue can feel numb or just part of the tongue, like the tip. Or, both lips can be affected or just part of a lip, and so on.

This numb and tingling sensation can occur occasionally, frequently, or persistently and day after day.

This sensation can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety symptoms or occur by itself.

It can also precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and stress, or occur “out of the blue” and for no apparent reason.

A numb and tingling sensation can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe and can come in waves where it seems strong one moment and eases or subsides the next.

This symptom can change from day to day, moment to moment, or remain a constant background to your struggle with anxiety disorder.

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.

Numbness and tingling can be caused by many factors including:

  • Remaining in the same position (seated or standing) for a long time.
  • Injury or pressure on a nerve (for example, a back injury can cause numbness in the legs or feet, and a neck injury can cause numbness in the arms and hands).
  • Pressure on the spinal nerves (for example, due to a herniated disk).
  • Lack of blood supply to an area (for example, restricted blood flow–we often refer to it as “falling asleep,” or for medical reason such as, plaque buildup from atherosclerosis–this can cause pain, numbness, and tingling).
  • Side effects from certain medications.
  • A lack of vitamin B12 or other vitamins.
  • From radiation therapy.
  • Toxic action on the nerves, such as from alcohol, tobacco, or lead.
  • Abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, or sodium in the body.

Numbness and tingling can also be caused by medical conditions, including:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Underactive thyroid

Why does anxiety cause numbness and tingling symptoms?

When numbness and tingling are solely attributed to anxiety, anxiety can cause numbness and tingling sensations in many ways. Here are some of the most common:

1. The Stress Response

Anxious behavior activates the stress response, otherwise known as the fight or flight response.[1][2] The stress response prepares the body for immediate emergency action by causing many body-wide changes, including:

  • Shunts blood away from the extremities, including the skin, and to parts of the body more important for survival, such as the brain and muscles.[3]
  • Increases muscle tension to make the body more resilient to injury.[3]
  • Heightens most of the body’s senses so that danger can be more easily detected.[3]
  • Stimulates the body, especially the nervous system, so that we have “extra” energy to either fight or flee.[4]
  • Increases heart rate and respiration to accommodate the increase in energy and action.

To name a few.

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

Since these survival changes push the body beyond its balance point, stress responses stress the body. A body that becomes stressed can exhibit symptoms of stress.

As such, anxiety stresses the body.

Any one or combination of stress response changes can cause numbness and tingling anywhere on or in the body.

Many anxious and stressed people get a numbness and tingling feeling due to their anxiety and stress.

2. Stress-Response Hyperstimulation

When the body is chronically stressed, such as by overly anxious behavior, it can remain in a state of semi-stress response readiness, which we call stress-response hyperstimulation) since stress hormones are powerful stimulants.[3][5][6]

Chronic stress can cause persistent numbness and tingling.

Hyperstimulation is one of the most common reasons why we can have numbness and tingling even though we don’t feel anxious or stressed at the time.

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

3. Other Factors

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

Medication

Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can mimic, cause, and aggravate anxiety symptoms.

Talk with your doctor and pharmacist about your medication if you aren't sure if its playing a role in your symptoms, including this one.

Visit our Medication article for more information.

Recreational Drugs

Many recreational drugs can cause and aggravate anxiety symptoms, including numbness and tingling sensations.

Visit our Recreational Drugs article for more information.

Stimulants

Stimulants bring about their stimulating effect by causing the secretion of stress hormones.

Increasing the body’s stimulation can cause and aggravate existing anxiety symptoms.

Visit our Stimulants article for more information.

Sleep Deprivation

Going without adequate sleep can affect the body in many ways, such as:

  • Prevents the body from sufficiently refreshing itself
  • Stresses the nervous system
  • Impairs brain function
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Increases blood sugar
  • Increases moodiness
  • Increases cortisol to compensate for feeling tired (cortisol is a powerful stress hormone)

These effects can cause and aggravate anxiety symptoms, and especially numbness and tingling feelings.

Visit our Sleep Deprivation article for more information.

Fatigue

Fatigue can cause and aggravate many anxiety-like symptoms, such as:

To name a few.

Visit our Fatigue article for more information.

Hyper and Hypoventilation

Over and under breathing can cause anxiety-like symptoms, including numbness and tingling, and aggravate existing anxiety symptoms.

Visit our Hyper And Hypoventilation article for more information.

Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar, even within the normal range, can cause anxiety-like symptoms. Low blood sugar can also aggravate existing anxiety symptoms.

Visit our Low Blood Sugar article for more information.

Nutritional Deficiency

Nutritional deficiencies, such as low vitamin B and D, can cause anxiety-like symptoms. Nutritional deficiencies can also aggravate existing anxiety symptoms.

Visit our Nutritional Deficiency article for more information.

Dehydration

Dehydration can also cause anxiety-like symptoms and aggravate existing anxiety symptoms, such as:

To name a few.

Visit our Dehydration article for more information.

Hormone Changes

Hormones affect the body in many ways and can affect each other. Hormone changes can cause anxiety-like symptoms and aggravate existing anxiety symptoms.

Visit our Hormone Changes article for more information.

Pain

Pain stresses the body, especially chronic pain. If the pain is in the high degree range, it can cause and aggravate hyperstimulation.

If you are anxious, hyperstimulated, and symptomatic, pain can aggravate them all.

Visit our Pain article for more information.

4. Numbness and tingling are common symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.

Since anxiety can cause numbness and tingling, high degree anxiety, such as anxiety and panic attacks, are often accompanied by numbness and tingling.

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How to get rid of numbness and tingling anxiety symptoms?

When other factors cause or aggravate numbness and tingling, addressing the specific cause can reduce and eliminate this symptom.

When an active stress response causes this symptom, ending the active stress response will end this symptom.

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 needn’t be a cause for concern.

When hyperstimulation (chronic stress) causes numbness and tingling, eliminating hyperstimulation will cause this symptom to subside.

You can eliminate hyperstimulation by:

  • Reducing stress.
  • Containing anxious behavior (since anxiety creates stress).
  • Regular deep relaxation.
  • Avoiding stimulants.
  • Regular good sleep (between 6 to 8 hours per night).
  • Regular light to moderate exercise.
  • Increasing rest – taking sufficient time to calm the body.
  • Eating a healthy diet of whole and natural foods.
  • Passively accepting your symptoms until they subside.
  • Being patient as your body recovers.
  • Not reacting to your anxiety symptoms, since reacting stresses the body.

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

As the body recovers from hyperstimulation (chronic stress), it stops sending symptoms, including this one.

Symptoms of chronic stress 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.

Even so, since numbness and tingling are common symptoms of stress, including anxiety-caused stress, it's harmless and needn't be a cause for concern. It will subside when unhealthy stress has been eliminated and the body has had sufficient time to recover. Therefore, there is no reason to worry about it.

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 finished recovering.

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 more serious medical problem. This is especially true if you have had your symptoms evaluated by your doctor and there isn’t a medical cause.

Chronic anxiety symptoms subside when hyperstimulation is eliminated. As the body recovers and stabilizes, all chronic anxiety symptoms will slowly diminish and eventually disappear.

Since worrying and becoming upset about anxiety symptoms create stress, 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.

Keep in mind that it can take a long time for the body to recover from hyperstimulation. It's best to faithfully work at your recovery despite the lack of apparent progress.

However, if you persevere with your recovery work, you will succeed.

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.

  • Reducing stress.
  • Increasing rest.
  • Faithfully practicing your recovery strategies.
  • Passively accepting your symptoms.
  • Containing anxious behavior.
  • Being patient.

These will bring results in time.

When you do the right work, the body has to recover!

You can also visit our tingling, tingly, pins and needles anxiety symptom for more information.

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Therapy

Unidentified and unaddressed underlying factors cause issues with anxiety. As such, they are the primary reason why anxiety symptoms persist.[7][8][9]

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.

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

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Numbness and Tingling Frequent Questions

How long does anxiety numbness last?

Anxiety numbness can last a few moments to minutes if it is caused by anxiety and an active stress response, hypo or hyperventilation, or other temporary cause. Or it could persist for days or months if it is caused by hyperstimulation (chronic stress), medication, sleep deprivation, and other long-term cause. However, addressing the cause will eliminate this symptom in time.

Can anxiety numbness last for days?

In some cases, yes. Chronic causes of numbness and tingling, such as chronic stress, medication, and sleep deprivation, can cause chronic numbness and tingling until the cause has been addressed.

How to get rid of anxiety numbness?

Since specific reasons cause numbness and tingling, successfully addressing those reasons will cause numbness and tingling to subside. If you don’t know the specific reasons, connecting with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists could be helpful in determining the specific cause(s).

Can anxiety cause numbness on one side of the body?

Anxiety symptoms can occur anywhere on or in the body, including on one side. Many of our Recovery Support members and therapy clients have had numbness or tingling on one side of the body. So yes, anxiety can cause numbness and tingling on one side of the body.

Can anxiety cause neuropathy symptoms?

Yes, anxiety can cause neuropathy-like symptoms. Because anxiety can dramatically affect the nervous system, neurological-like symptoms are common symptoms of anxiety.

Can generalized anxiety disorder cause tingling?

Yes, since anxiety can cause tingling symptoms, any type of anxiety can cause tingling, including generalized anxiety disorder.

What causes numbness and tingling in arms and hands?

There are many causes of numbness and tingling in the arms and hands. That’s why it’s a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. But anxiety is also a common cause of numbness and tingling in the arms and hands.

What causes tingling throughout the body?

There are many causes of numbness and tingling throughout the body. That’s why it’s a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. But anxiety, especially anxiety-caused hyperstimulation, is also a common cause of numbness and tingling throughout the body.

Prevalence

In an online poll we conducted, 74 percent of respondents said they had numbness and tingling due to their anxiety.

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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 Numbness and Tingling Anxiety Symptoms.

References

1. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

2. Harvard Health Publishing. “Understanding the Stress Response.” Harvard Health, May 2018.

3. Murison, Robert. "The Neurobiology of Stress." 2016.

4. Mariotti, Agnese. “The Effects of Chronic Stress on Health: New Insights into the Molecular Mechanisms of Brain–Body Communication.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2015.

5. Yaribeygi, Habib, et al. “The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review.” EXCLI Journal, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 2017.

6. 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.

7. 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.

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

9. 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.