Sudden Chemical Change Surge-like Feeling

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated October 23, 2022

sudden chemical change surge-like feelings

Sudden Chemical Change Surge-Like Feelings, such as a sudden rush or unexplained surge of chemicals anywhere in the body, is a common symptom of anxiety disorder. This chemical change surge-like feeling can also be an anxiety symptom associated with anxiety and panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorderobsessive-compulsive disorder, and many other categories of anxiety disorder.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and having a feeling like a sudden chemical change has occurred in the body.

Common Chemical Change Surge-like Symptom Descriptions Include:

  • It feels like a sudden and unexplained surge of chemicals floods the body.
  • It feels like your head, neck, arms, hands, fingers, throat, chest, stomach, abdomen, bowels, legs, feet, toes, or any combination thereof, have had a sudden “blood pressure-like” or “chemical-like” surge.
  • It feels like one or many parts of the body were suddenly engorged with blood for no apparent reason.
  • It feels like a sudden surge of “something” that makes parts of the body feel like they are being “flooded” or under unusual pressure.
  • It feels like parts of the body are suddenly flushed with adrenaline or cortisol, and that makes them feel unusually “pressurized.”
  • It feels like parts of the body have experienced a sudden surge of fluid or “pressure” that lasts a few moments to minutes and then subsides…only for it to occur again later.
  • This symptom can be accompanied by a “hot flash” feeling, a sudden “electrical charge-like” feeling, like the insides of your body are burning up, or any other warm, hot, or flash-like feeling.

This symptom can occur rarely, frequently, or persistently. For example, you have this “sudden chemical change” feeling once in a while and not that often, have it off and on, or have it all the time.

This chemical change surge-like feeling can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms or occur by itself.

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

It can also range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves where it’s strong one moment and subsides the next.

This chemical change surge-like feeling can change from day to day, and from moment to moment. This common anxiety symptom can also occur off and on throughout the entire time with anxiety disorder.

All the above combinations and variations are common.

This symptom can seem more noticeable when undistracted, resting, trying to sleep, waking up, or when you have more time to think.

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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How Does Anxiety Cause The Sudden Chemical Change Surge-like Feelings?

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 chemical change surge-like feelings are solely attributed to anxiety, here are some of the most common causes:

1. Active Stress Response

Anxious behavior, such as worry, activates the stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones, which are powerful stimulants, into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that give the body a boost of energy and resources to deal with a threat—to either 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]

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

Some of the stress response changes include:

  • Quickly converts the body’s energy reserves into “fuel” (blood sugar) so that we have an instant boost of energy.
  • Increases heart rate, respiration, and metabolism due to the boost in energy.
  • Stimulates the nervous system, increasing nervous system activity.
  • Heightens most of the body’s senses.
  • 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.

Any one or combination of these changes can cause a sudden “surge of blood” and “pressure-like” feelings anywhere in the body, including the brain, chest, and stomach.

Many anxious people feel “butterflies in the stomach” or a “warm feeling in the stomach” the moment a stress response activates.

The higher the degree of anxiety and stress response, the more pronounced the feeling.

As such, having a “chemical change” or “pressure-like” feeling in parts of the body is a common anxiety sensation. For instance:

The stress response changes blood pressure. Consequently, a sudden stress response can cause a sudden change in blood pressure, which can be felt like a “chemical surge.”

Moreover, stress hormones alter the relationship between neurotransmitters in the brain, so the brain is better equipped to deal with an emergency.

Some neurotransmitters are increased (such as glutamate), and some are decreased (such as GABA). This sudden change in neurotransmitter relationship can be experienced as a “brain surge.”

Also, blood rushing away from the stomach to the head can be felt as a sudden “chemical change” in the stomach, chest, and head.

Furthermore, stress hormones stimulate the nervous system, which includes the brain. Nervous system stimulation can feel like a “chemical surge” due to the rapid increase in electrical activity in the parts of the nervous system.

Again, any one or combination of stress response changes can cause a “chemical change or surge” feeling.

2. Hyperstimulation

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

However, when stress responses occur too frequently, such as from overly apprehensive behavior, the body can’t recover.

Incomplete recovery can leave the body in a state of semi-stress response readiness, which we call “stress-response hyperstimulation” since stress hormones are stimulants.

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.

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

Involuntary “chemical change surge” feelings are a common indication of hyperstimulation (chronic stress) and how it can affect blood flow, neurotransmitter changes, hormone changes, and nervous system activity.

This is especially true when hyperstimulation causes erratic nervous system activity, homeostatic dysregulation, and erratically changing hormone levels, characteristic of how hyperstimulation can affect the body.

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Other Factors

Other factors can create stress and cause anxiety-like symptoms, as well as aggravate existing anxiety symptoms, including:

Select the relevant link for more information.

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 cause this anxiety symptom to subside.

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 chemical change surge-like feelings anywhere in or on the body.

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.

Even so, since a chemical change surge-like feeling is a common symptom 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 and stabilize. 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 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.

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

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.

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.

Eliminating hyperstimulation will bring results in time!

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 recalling pleasant memories or experiences.

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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.[5][6][7]

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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Prevalence

In an online poll we conducted, just over 80 percent of respondents said they had chemical change surge-like feelings due to their anxiety disorder.

However, because anxiety symptoms are described in subjective terms, this common symptom might not be described as a “chemical change or surge” but as a “brain surge,” “electric pulsing,” “hot flash,” and so on.

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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 a Sudden Chemical Change Surge-like Feeling anxiety symptoms.

References

1. Folk, Jim, and Liashko, Vitaly. “The Stress Response." anxietycentre.com, retrieved May 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. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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

7. 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.