The symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, phobias, and generalized anxiety, are varied and not all emotional.
Emotional distress such as worry and rumination can accompany physical symptoms such as muscle tension or an upset stomach, chills, and headaches.
Something else that comes to mind? Various parts of your body feel numb or tingly. If you’re already anxious, this can be a scary experience. Fear and worry about day-to-day events characterize anxiety.
Neuralgia is one of the many symptoms that can be experienced by people with an anxiety disorder.
Hyperventilation or a panic attack can cause numbness in the body, but it is usually temporary. It can take up to 20–30 minutes for the tingling and numbness to subside. If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, emotional numbness is likely to last longer than physical numbness.
In this article, we’ll go over how anxiety and panic attacks can make you feel numb. We also go over some other common anxiety symptoms and when you should see a doctor and how to handle the anxiety numbness.
How Long Does Anxiety Numbness Last
Hyperventilation or a panic attack can cause numbness in the body, but it is usually temporary.
It can take up to 20–30 minutes for the tingling and numbness to subside. If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, emotional numbness is likely to last longer than physical numbness.
Emotional numbness can persist for a longer period than physical numbness, and it is frequently a sign of depression or anxiety.
What Is Numbness?
Numbness can be caused by anxiety in a variety of ways. When you’re panicked, your blood vessels constrict, raising your heart rate and blood pressure.
This reduces blood flow to various body parts, particularly the hands and feet, which can result in tingling, numbness, or a cold sensation.
The legs, arms, hands, and feet are the most commonly affected parts of the body, but numbness can affect any part of the body at any point in time. In some cases, the sensation doesn’t spread throughout the entire body part.
As an example, you might only notice it in your fingertips or toes.
It can also appear on the back of your neck or your scalp. Also, it’s possible to see it directly in the eye.
The tip of the tongue, for example, may feel tingly or numb in some people. Also, you may experience numbness throughout your body, whether on one or both sides. It’s not going to follow a predetermined pattern.
Anxiety affects one’s behavior as well. A person’s muscles may be tense unconsciously, resulting in unusual or numb muscle sensations.
Some people “freeze” when they are terrified. This may cause them to hold their bodies in uncomfortably uncomfortable positions, such as sitting on one foot or crossing their legs tightly. This can cause tingling and numbness.
Furthermore, people who use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their anxiety may experience numbness as a result of their actions. When a person is experiencing the sensation of being “high,” some drugs can cause temporary numbness.
What triggers anxiety numbness?
Anxiety can lead to numbness in the body and mind, which can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are a few examples.
Relaxed breathing allows you to inhale and expel the proper amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide, ensuring that your body is in balance.
Anxiety, emotional distress, and acute stress, on the other hand, can cause your heart rate to rise. A rapid heartbeat can cause hyperventilation, which is associated with rapid breathing. Your blood’s carbon dioxide level is lowered as a result of this action.
It is possible to experience dizziness, lightheadedness, and a sense of exhaustion when you hyperventilate. Additionally, it can cause tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, as well as in the mouth and around the eyes.
• The fight-or-flight response
Feeling threatened or stressed can lead to anxiety. The fight-or-flight response is your body’s way of dealing with this perceived threat.
First, your brain sends signals to the rest of your body informing them of the impending danger or opportunity.
One of the most important aspects of these preparations is an increase in blood flow to your muscles and important organs or the areas of your body that would provide the most support for fighting or fleeing.
Extensive use of your arms, legs, and other non-essential parts of your body in times of danger. Temporary numbness can occur as a result of the rapid outflow of blood from the hands and feet.
• Trauma and stress
Trauma or extreme stress can lead to a state of emotional numbness. However, it is widely accepted that our brains use emotional numbness or avoidance to deal with the stress that it perceives is too much for us, even though we don’t know why.
Depression and PTSD can cause emotional numbness or flatness, which can be a symptom.
• Medications and emotional numbness
Emotional numbness is a possible side effect of anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications that can effectively improve symptoms of anxiety such as physical numbness.
It’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing anxiety-related numbness, whether it’s physical or emotional, and you think your medication may be causing or worsening it.
3 Types of Numbness
Anxiety can cause a variety of numbness symptoms, including physical, emotional, and dissociative.
Numbness in the body is defined as a loss of feeling or sensation. A complete lack of sensation in the body is the most obvious form of physical numbness.
However, a tingling sensation can mimic the sensation of physical numbness. The sensation of “pins and needles” or having a limb “fall asleep” are common descriptions.
Hands, fingers, feet, toes, and the area around the mouth are the most common locations to feel numbness. However, numbness in the body can be caused by a wide range of medical conditions from mild to severe.
If you’re experiencing unexplained numbness in your body or if it’s interfering with your daily routine, you should see a doctor.
You may be experiencing numbness due to a physical condition, rather than anxiety if the onset of numbness is accompanied by symptoms like paralysis, headache, dizziness, or confusion. Seek immediate medical attention if this happens to you.
People who suffer from anxiety are prone to feeling emotionally numb. Emotional detachment, inability to access your feelings and a lack of participation in life are all symptoms of this condition.
Dissociation may be a symptom of anxiety in some people. Dissociative symptoms include:
- Depersonalization (the experience of being cut off from one’s own body or as if one were not a physical being at all)
- As if the world isn’t real, derealization
- Amnesia is characterized by dissociation (with memory gaps)
How to Handle Anxiety Numbness?
Learning techniques for dealing with anxiety in high-stress situations can shorten the duration and lengthen the extent to which numbness occurs. There are a few quick fixes you can try if you’re experiencing numbness as a side effect of your anxiety.
1. Deep breathing exercises
Instead of breathing through your chest, you’ll use your diaphragm and abdomen with these exercises. Alternatively, you can inhale through your pursed lips3. Hyperventilation may be prevented or stopped by this method.
2. Physical activity
Physical activity can have a significant impact on anxiety-related emotional distress if done regularly. It’s also a good idea to get up and move around if you suddenly feel anxious.
For starters, moving your body can serve as a distraction from whatever is causing your stress. Exercise, on the other hand, increases your heart rate and blood flow, as well as allows your breathing to return to normal.
If you’re not up for a strenuous workout, here are some alternatives to consider: Brisk walking, a light jog, some simple stretches, running in place, and dancing to your favorite tunes are all acceptable forms of exercise.
Keep your mind off of the numbness by finding something else to focus on. This can be helpful, as anxiety can lead to numbness, which in turn creates a vicious cycle.
In doing so, it triggers a panic attack and makes you even more anxious, which in turn worsens the stress response and makes you less responsive.
4. Treatment using cognitive-behavioral methods
This is a form of psychotherapy based on the premise that your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and actions are all interconnected.
Anxiety and other problems that seem overwhelming at first can be alleviated with the help of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Therapy can also help you reactivate your emotional numbness.
Although anti-anxiety medications don’t address the root causes of anxiety, they can help alleviate the symptoms.
It improves your mood by boosting the production of chemical messengers in the brain. As a result, the fight or flight response could be reduced.
In addition, it is critical to distinguish between anxiety-related numbness and other medical conditions that can cause numbness, such as Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.
If you’re experiencing numbness that isn’t caused by anxiety, you should seek medical attention.
Physical causes of numbness include fibromyalgia and nerve damage, as well as a lack of vitamins and minerals.
6. Try not to worry
What a tall order, isn’t it? However, obsessing over numbness can exacerbate the condition. Observe the sensations you feel if you frequently feel numb.
Right now, you might be experiencing some anxiety. A grounding exercise or another strategy for dealing with the immediate feelings may help, but be aware of any numbness you experience while doing so. Just how do you feel about it? What’s the address?
Observe if the numbness has subsided once you’ve regained some composure. If you’re only bothered by it when you’re anxious, don’t worry about it.
If you don’t feel anxious at the time, record your feelings in a journal. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
To get a better understanding of what’s going on, you should keep a log of any patterns in the numbness.
When Should You Seek Help?
Numbness isn’t always a sign of something serious going on with your health, but it could be. The following symptoms of numbness should be addressed by a visit to your doctor:
- When persistent worsening with time occurs when you perform specific movements, such as typing or writing.
- Numbness that occurs suddenly or after head trauma, or affects a large portion of your body, should be reported immediately to a healthcare professional (such as your entire leg instead of just your toes).
If you’re experiencing numbness in addition to any of the following:
- Sudden dizziness and a severe headache
- A lack of strength
- Disorientation and difficulty communicating
Last but not least, the best way to alleviate anxiety-related numbness is to deal with the underlying cause of the numbness. If you have a long-term problem with anxiety, a trained therapist can be a good source of support.
Anxiety can be addressed in therapy by identifying and addressing the underlying causes of the disorder.
Consider seeking help if you notice that your anxiety symptoms have begun to negatively impact your physical or mental health or quality of life.
Anxiety can cause numbness, a common symptom. The mere fact that someone has it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them.
The best course of action is to address the underlying causes of your anxiety and seek out appropriate treatment. Numbness that persists even after the anxiety has subsided warrants a trip to the doctor to rule out anything else.