Pressure, Sensitivity, Pressure Like Feelings Anxiety Symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 19, 2021

pressures sensitivities anxiety symptoms

Odd pressure or sensitivities anywhere on or in the body are often symptoms of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and others.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety disorder and the anxiety symptom odd pressures and sensitivities anywhere on or in the body.

Odd pressure and sensitivity anxiety symptoms common descriptions:

  • You have an unusual pressure, pressures, or pressure-like feelings anywhere on or in the body. For example, it could feel like there is an unexplained pressure on your arm, hand, leg, or in your temples. When you look to see why, there is nothing causing it.
  • You have an unusual sensitivity or sensitivities anywhere on or in the body. For instance, it feels like a certain part of your body is highly sensitized even though there is no apparent reason for it.
  • These pressures and sensitivities can feel like they are in the muscles, joints, bones, skin, soft tissues, organs, or glands anywhere on or in the body.
  • Even though you have an unusual pressure or sensitivity, there isn’t an obvious physical or medical reason for it.

These unusual pressures and sensitivities can affect one area of the body only, can migrate and affect another area or areas, can migrate back and forth from one area to another over and over again, and can affect many areas of the body at the same time.

These unusual pressures and sensitivities can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist 24/7 day after day. For example, you have this symptom once in a while and not that often, have it off and on, or have it all the time and every day.

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

This symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and stress, or occur "out of the blue" and for no apparent reason.

These unusual pressures and sensitivities can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. They can also come in waves where they are strong one moment and ease off the next.

This symptom can change from day to day and from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

This symptom can seem more disconcerting when undistracted, resting, doing deep relaxation, or when going to sleep or when waking up.

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 pressure and sensitivity symptoms.

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Why does anxiety cause odd pressures and sensitivity symptoms anywhere on or in the body?

Medical Advisory

1. Effects of the stress response

Anxious behavior activates the body’s stress response, which secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat – to either fight or flee.

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

The stress response causes many body-wide changes, including:

  • Tightens muscles so that the body is more resilient to harm.
  • Increases nervous system activity so the body is more reactive.
  • Heightens the body’s senses so that we are more sensitive to and reactive to danger.

To name a few.

For more detailed information, visit our “Stress Response” article.

Many of the changes caused by the stress response can cause unusual pressures and sensitivities anywhere on or in the body.

2. The effects of hyperstimulation

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the changes brought about by the stress response.

When stress responses occur too frequently, however, such as from overly apprehensive behavior, the body has a more difficult time recovering. Incomplete recovery can cause the body to remain in a state of semi stress response readiness. We call this state “stress-response hyperstimulation” since stress hormones are stimulants.

For more detailed information, visit our “Stress-response Hyperstimulation” article.

Hyperstimulation is also often referred to as “hyperarousal,” “HPA axis dysfunction,” or “nervous system dysregulation.”[3][4]

Hyperstimulation can cause the changes of an active stress response even though a stress response hasn’t been activated. Having odd pressures and sensitivities anywhere on or in the body are common indications of hyperstimulation.

Furthermore, the nervous system is responsible for sending sensory nerve impulse information from the body’s sense organs to the brain for interpretation, and then for sending nerve impulse information from the brain to the body.

The nervous system accomplishes this “sending and receiving” via specialized cells called “neurons.” Neurons communicate with each other using an electrochemical process (the combination of electricity and chemistry).[5]

neuron anatomy image

This system of nervous system communication and reaction works normally when the body and nervous system are healthy. Problems can occur when the body and nervous system become hyperstimulated.[6]

For instance, because of their electrochemical properties, neurons are particularly sensitive to stress hormone stimulation. When neurons become hyperstimulated, they can act erratically.[5]

This erratic behavior can cause all sorts of nervous system-related anomalies, such as feeling like you have an unusual pressure or sensitivity anywhere on or in the body.[7]

The above combination of factors can cause many odd and bizarre sensory sensations and feelings, including unusual pressures and sensitivities.

3. Other factors

Associated with anxiety, there are other factors that can cause and contribute to this symptom, including:

  1. Medication
  2. Recreational drugs
  3. Stimulants
  4. Sleep deprivation
  5. Fatigue
  6. Hyper and hypoventilation
  7. Low blood sugar
  8. Nutritional deficiencies
  9. Dehydration

Select the relevant link for more information.

I (Jim Folk) had this symptom, too, and a lot when I was struggling with anxiety disorder. I know how unsettling it can be. But this symptom isn’t harmful, and therefore, needn’t be a cause for concern.

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How To Get Rid Of Anxiety Odd Pressures And Sensitivities

When this anxiety symptom is caused by apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, containing your anxious behavior and calming yourself down will bring an end to the active stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, this anxiety symptom subsides.

Keep in mind, it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. This is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When this anxiety symptom is caused by hyperstimulation, such as from overly apprehensive behavior, it can take much longer for the body to recover, and to the point where this anxiety symptom subsides.

Nevertheless, when the body has recovered from the active stress response or hyperstimulation, it stops sending symptoms, including this one. So again, having odd pressures and sensitivities anywhere on or in the body needn’t be a cause for concern.

You can speed up the recovery process by containing anxious behavior, reducing stress, regular deep relaxation, increasing rest, getting good sleep, and not worrying about your anxiety symptoms.

We explain the skill of “containment” with “how to” examples in chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area.

If you are having difficulty containing your anxiousness, you might want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder, what can seem like uncontrollable worry, and anxiety symptoms.[8][9]

For a more detailed explanation about anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety symptoms including this one, why anxiety symptoms can persist long after we think they should, 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 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. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Pressure and Sensitivities anxiety symptoms.


1. Selye, H. (1956) “The Stress Of Life.” New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

2. Folk, Jim and Folk, Marilyn. “The Stress Response And Anxiety Symptoms.”, January 2020.

3. Elbers, Jorina, et al. "Wired for Threat: Clinical Features of Nervous System Dysregulation in 80 Children." Pediatric Neurology, Dec 2018,

4. 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,

5. Bear, Connors, Paradiso (2016). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain - Fourth Edition. In Neurons And Glia (pp. 29-53). New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer

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

8. 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,

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