How Long Does Anxiety Numbness Last?
Anxiety is a natural feeling that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. However, some people experience anxiety much more often than others, which can be a scary experience.
Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
These include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and specific phobias.
While anxiety is a normal part of life, it can also become debilitating if left untreated. And some anxiety symptoms include a racing heart rate, agitation, nervousness, and even numbness.
What Is Anxiety Numbness?
This is a broad term used to describe the sensation, or lack thereof, of feeling and is typically associated with physical symptoms.
This can either be in the physical form where somebody is unable to have a feeling to the touch, and it can also be manifested as an emotional numbness where an individual with anxiety numbness cannot feel emotions – especially positive emotions.
For some people, it’s the inability to feel an area of the body, whilst for others it’s a tingling sensation, making it an unusual feeling to have. Whilst it can also cause a mild burning feeling, usually found in the legs, hands, and feet.
How Does Anxiety Cause Numbness?
Anxiety and stress go hand-in-hand, and anxious tendencies will activate the fight or flight response. This is when your body is thrown into a sense of high alert because your body is detecting a threat.
Anxiety is a normal human reaction, and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t. We needed a security system to detect threats from predators that might be hiding in a nearby bush, or being on top of a cliff to stop us from jumping off.
The problem with anxiety is that some people are unable to distinguish between what is a threat and what isn’t.
Some might get anxious about being late for a party, yet still, arrive 20 minutes early just to avoid any problems.
Some might be anxious about having to drive 230 minutes down the road, even though they’ve done it a thousand times before.
This anxiety can trigger numbness in some people and is one of the many side effects of this chronic condition.
Even if the threat is benign, it can still activate the sympathetic nervous system which shuts off bodily functions like digestion and begins to increase your heart rate.
As anxiety numbness is mostly found in the extremities, this is why it is caused.
As your body shuttles blood flow away from your hands and feet to protect your vital organs, this can often cause temporary numbness and coldness.
Tips To Reduce Anxiety Numbness
There are a few ways to counteract anxiety numbness. There’s no cure, as per see to anxiety numbness, where it’s more prevented from happening. This is because anxiety is a natural bodily response, rather than a symptom.
Ideally, you will look to reduce bouts of anxiety and take the steps to manage the quantity and severity. However, whilst you work towards this, here are a few steps you can take to manage your numbness.
Exercise, or physical activity is often referred to as “taking a polypill.” That’s because exercise has so many benefits that include helping to reduce depression and anxiety.
It’s also super beneficial for long-term health and can help support the nervous system, improve the cardiovascular system, and keep our joints and bones nice and strong.
One of the best methods is to go for a job and incorporate cardiovascular exercise into your weekly routine.
But if you’re too stressed or don’t have the energy to manage a run, then a brisk walk is nourishing and energizing for the body.
You should also include some form of resistance training twice per week. This is recommended for both men and women and can help deter the effects of depression and anxiety.
Create Health Habits
To break this cycle, you should look to distract yourself from these sensations.
A few ways to do this are through exercising (which we’ve just covered), or doing something simple like having a phone call with a loved one.
You should also engage in activities that are healthy and that you enjoy, as this lowers the chance you will think about the problem.
Watching sports (as long as it doesn’t give you anxiety!), playing card games, going for lunch with a friend, or just simply watching a great TV box set are all good ways to keep the mind out of fight-or-flight.
We usually symbolize oxygen by beating the life force of our body, and carbon dioxide is a waste gas that we need to expel.
The problem is that with heavy breathing and hyperventilation; we over-oxidize the body which can lead to excess free radicals which are harmful to our bodies in large doses.
Therefore we need to bring our breathing back to homeostasis and learn to control our rate of inhalation and exhalation, which can also help avoid a panic attack.
To do this, slow down your breathing and ensure that there is a 2-second gap in between breaths to help restore a natural rhythm to your breathing.
The above tips aren’t meant to be exhaustive, but they are a good starting point to help alleviate feelings of anxiety. You’ll find that each person reacts differently to anxiety and its symptoms.
Therefore, what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you.
However, I hope that these tips will help you understand why you feel the way you do and hopefully provide you with some tools to combat it.
Frequently Asked Questions
My Anxiety And Numbness Keeps Persisting. What Should I Do?
Numbness is not always a sign of a serious medical condition, but we recommend that you speak to your doctor if you are concerned about anything.
You could also consider looking into therapy to help control your anxiety and how it triggers.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT (license:115130)
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: August 7, 2022