Paresthesia anxiety treatment

Paresthesia anxiety treatment DEFAULT

4 Ways to Prevent Pins and Needles From Anxiety

Anxiety has some very strange symptoms, and one type of symptom that often causes a great deal of distress is the pins and needles feeling – the way your arm feels when it wakes up after falling asleep.

Those that aren't prepared for this symptom may develop further anxiety and worry that this pins and needles feeling is caused by something else – something more dangerous. Yet very often, it's caused by anxiety.

The Health Concerns Over Pins and Needles

Anxiety causes people to fear the worst. Random spurts of pins and needles can make people worry about systemic diseases.

It's important to visit your doctor to rule out any of these issues. But don’t forget that anxiety really does cause the feeling of pins and needles, as well as the tendency to assume the worst.

Cause of Pins and Needles

The feeling of pins and needles is known as "paresthesia." Most people associate it with sleeping incorrectly on a nerve. This causes the nerve to stop sending signals so that it "falls asleep" and creates a feeling of numbness. When pressure is taken off of the nerve, the body sends shock waves down the nerve to wake it up. This is what creates a feeling of pins and needles.

But paresthesia doesn't just occur when a nerve has pressure. It may also occur during anxiety, especially during panic attacks. 

Hyperventilation & Paresthesia

Those with anxiety are also prone to hyperventilating more as a result of their hyperventilation. Hyperventilation can cause symptoms of not getting enough air (shortness of breath) which makes people breathe in deeper. But that deeper breathing is actually counterproductive, since too much oxygen is the cause of hyperventilation. This makes the symptoms get worse, and increases the likelihood of tingling.

Hyperventilation is one of the main causes of panic attack and severe anxiety symptoms, and the pins and needles feeling is undoubtedly one of the most troublesome for those unaware of their breathing patterns. Not everyone experiences the same sensation either. Some people feel pain, while others feel a tickling. Some people may experience different sensations at different times.

Other Links Between Anxiety and Pins and Needles

Those with anxiety and those that suffer from anxiety attacks are also more prone to body consciousness. They become over-sensitive to every sensation in their body makes, and unintentionally overthink the causes of those experiences.

Feet, arms, fingers, and legs, all may fall asleep due to pressure on the nerves. For a person without anxiety, this experience is rarely given a second thought. To a person with anxiety, this experience can cause a significant amount of distress – enough to make someone worry about their health.

In addition, dehydration and other less serious diseases may also create a tingling feeling in the limbs as well as anxiety. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may be more likely to react very strongly to these sensations until you experience an anxiety attack.

Seeing a Doctor

It's still important to see a doctor to ensure it is nothing more serious. Some vitamin deficiencies, such as low levels of magnesium, Vitamin B12, and vitamin B5 can also cause a tingling feeling and contribute to anxiety sensations. Vitamin supplementation may be helpful in ruling out these causes.

How to Stop the Anxiety of Tingling Limbs

There are several ways to control anxiety from the pins and needles sensation. Some of the things you can try include:

  • Breathe Slower If you control hyperventilation, you control the pins and needles sensation. Try slowing down your breathing and resisting the urge to take a bigger breath than you need. Breathe in slowly for 5 to 7 seconds, hold for a few seconds, then breathe out for 7 or so seconds. Try to avoid over-breathing, and fight your body's temptation to yawn or expand your chest.
  • Moving Even though your body is not technically asleep, moving can still be very advantageous. Clenching your fists when your hands tingle or walking around your home when your legs are on pins and needles are helpful ways to get blood flowing in those areas. In some cases, you'll find that they go away quickly because your anxiety was a response to those areas falling asleep. In other cases, you may find that moving makes it easier to control your anxiety.
  • Light Jogging Some mild jogging can also help you regain some of the sensation. It's hard for some people to jog during a panic attack, and don't force yourself if you don't think it's possible. But jogging also increases carbon dioxide release and burns away some stress hormones and muscle tension in a way that tends to relax the body.
  • Distractions Finally, a lot of hyperventilation occurs because you're thinking about your own breathing. Try to help your breathing become automatic again. Your body knows how much it needs to breathe to be healthy, but is not in control of regulating your breathing when you make it conscious by thinking about it. Distractions can turn your body back on autopilot and help it balance your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

These are all simple but effective ways at helping decrease the pins and needles feeling so that you no longer feel the irritating sensation.

Long Term Pins and Needles Treatment

The main issue that you need to consider is how to treat your anxiety in the long term and prevent hyperventilation from occurring. There are two paths to this:

  • First, you need to retrain yourself to breathe healthier. Breathing slower and during times of stress will teach your body to control its breathing in a way that is less likely to cause hyperventilation. Make sure that you take 30 minutes or so out of every day to sit in a quiet place and breathe slowly in a controlled manner to provide this training.
  • Second you'll need to control your anxiety. Hyperventilation is a trained breathing reflex brought on by anxiety and panic attacks. If you continue to suffer from these disorders, your body will forget everything you trained it to do and hyperventilate again.

It is important to recognize paresthesias, such as pins and needles, is quite commonly experienced by people suffering from an anxiety disorder, and if accounted for as such and not overthought, following simple remedies can help limit its severity, frequency and the anxiety that stems from it.


Anxiety can lead to a pins and needles feeling, similar to a limb falling asleep. The exact mechanism for this is unclear and may vary depending on the type of anxiety. There are a few strategies to reduce the anxiety caused by this feeling, but managing anxiety is the only way to stop it. 

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What to know about facial numbness and anxiety

Anxiety can cause facial numbness and a tingling sensation. These symptoms of anxiety may trigger fears of a serious medical problem, such as a stroke or head injury.

Many different conditions can cause numbness, but tingling and numbness are among the most common anxiety symptoms, especially during a .

Keep reading to learn more about anxiety and facial numbness, including how the two are linked, when to contact a doctor, and further information about other potential physical symptoms of anxiety.

Can anxiety cause a numb face, and how? 

When a person feels anxious, their body responds with a number of changes that prepare them to fight or flee either a real or perceived threat.

One of the quick changes that occur in these instances is . This means that the blood vessels narrow, which, in turn, decreases blood flow throughout the body. This usually causes numbness and tingling.

This numbness tends to affect the hands, feet, or legs. However, it can also occur in the face. A person who clenches their jaw or shoulders when they feel anxious might notice increased tension around the face and head as well.

Anxiety may even cause numbness in the mouth or tongue. A highlights the experience of a man whose anxiety and depression caused numbness to affect his tongue. With antidepressant medication, the numbness disappeared.


Although a person with anxiety might focus on the numbness in their face, the most effective treatment focuses on the anxiety itself. As anxiety eases, it is expected that the physical effects that cause the numbness ease as well.

In the moment of an anxiety attack, reminding oneself that the numbness is a symptom of panic can also help ease anxiety. This may help prevent a person from panicking about physical symptoms.

Some treatment options for anxiety :

  • Therapy: In therapy, a person can discuss their anxiety, get help managing their symptoms, and develop a plan for managing panic attacks and other scary symptoms.
  • Medication: A number of prescription drugs can help with anxiety. Antidepressants can help ease anxiety over time, while a group of drugs called benzodiazepines may help with more acute anxiety, such as panic attacks, offering near-immediate relief.
  • Support: Having support from loved ones can help when a person feels overwhelmed by panic, particularly when they panic about physical symptoms such as numbness. Some people find that support and skills groups offer additional help from individuals who understand the challenges of living with anxiety.
  • Self-care: People who experience anxiety can monitor their symptoms and how various lifestyle choices may affect those symptoms. Regular exercise, deep breathing, or may help ease stress.

Learn more about the different treatments for anxiety here.

When to contact a doctor

People experiencing panic attacks or anxiety may also experience other physical symptoms, which can cause worry and lead to further anxiety.

In fact, a common experience during moments of intense panic is the fear of dying or belief that death is imminent.

Facial numbness may trigger fears of a stroke and, in rare cases, could, in fact, be a symptom of a stroke. People with anxiety should be familiar with the symptoms that distinguish a stroke from anxiety.

They should if:

  • The numbness appeared before the anxiety and only affects one side of the face.
  • A person cannot raise both arms or, when they do, one arm moves downward.
  • A person has difficulty speaking, walking, or seeing.
  • A person feels very confused or loses consciousness.
  • A person has a sudden, severe headache without another obvious cause.
  • A person can only see out of one eye.
  • A person’s face droops.
  • A person smiles, but the smile looks different on each side of the face.

A panic attack can feel very scary, but it is not dangerous or life threatening unless a person has other symptoms of a serious medical condition.

For example, may have a higher risk of a sickle cell crisis when blood vessels constrict due to anxiety. Numbness can be a symptom of these blood vessels constricting.

Otherwise, it is usually safe to manage the symptoms of panic at home. However, a person should contact a doctor if:

  • They have frequent panic attacks or severe anxiety that makes it difficult to function.
  • They have numbness in the face that does not go away when the anxiety eases.
  • Numbness in the face appears after an injury or dental surgery.
  • A person has other unexplained medical symptoms along with facial numbness.
  • Home treatments do not ease anxiety.
  • Anxiety gets worse over time.
  • Anxiety medication does not work.
  • A person notices unpleasant side effects of their anxiety medication.

Other physical symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety is a physical state and a mental one. At times of intense physical anxiety, the body enters a fight-or-flight state, preparing to either defend itself or flee.

This can cause a wide range of physical symptoms, including:

  • changes in blood pressure
  • an irregular heart rate or a very fast heartbeat
  • feeling hot or sweating
  • tingling or numbness in various parts of the body, especially the hands and feet
  • a pounding heart that may cause tension in the chest
  • physical pain or muscle aches
  • having a knot in the stomach or feeling very physically alert
  • gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea
  • rapid breathing
  • dizziness
  • feeling the need to move around
  • struggling to remain calm or sleep


Numbness in the face can be scary, especially when a person already feels anxious or afraid.

Knowing that numbness is a common response to anxiety may help a person feel less panicked.

However, if the numbness does not disappear or gets worse, it is possible that something other than anxiety caused it. In this case, it is worth contacting a doctor.

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Anxiety treatment paresthesia

Feeling Numb or Tingly? It Might Be Anxiety

Anxiety conditions — whether that’s panic disorder, phobias, or generalized anxiety — involve plenty of different symptoms, and not all of them are emotional.

Your symptoms could include physical concerns like muscle tension, an upset stomach, chills, and headaches along with emotional distress such as rumination, worry, and racing thoughts.

Something else you might notice? Numbness and tingling in various parts of your body. This can be pretty unnerving, especially if you’re already feeling anxious.

Luckily, if you’re numbness isn’t an anxiety symptom, it’s usually not anything serious.

Common causes of numbness other than anxiety include:

  • sitting or standing in the same position for a long period of time
  • insect bites
  • rashes
  • low levels of vitamin B-12, potassium, calcium, or sodium
  • medication side effects
  • alcohol use

Why does numbness show up as an anxiety symptom for some people? How can you tell whether it relates to anxiety or something else? Should you be seeing a doctor ASAP? We’ve got you covered.

How it can feel

You can experience anxiety-related numbness in a lot of ways.

For some, it feels like pins and needles — that prickling you get when a body part “falls asleep.” It can also just feel like a complete loss of sensation in one part of your body.

You might also notice other sensations, like:

  • tingles
  • the prickling of your hairs standing up
  • a mild burning feeling

While numbness can affect just about any part of your body, it often involves your legs, arms, hands, and feet.

The sensation doesn’t necessarily spread through the entire body part, though. You might only notice it in your fingertips or toes, for example.

It can also show up along your scalp or the back of your neck. It can also show up in your face. Some people even experience tingling and numbness on the tip of their tongue, for example.

Finally, numbness might appear on one or both sides of your body or show up in a few different places. It won’t necessarily follow a specific pattern.

Why it happens

Anxiety-related numbness happens for two main reasons.

The fight-or-flight response

Anxiety happens when you feel threatened or stressed.

To handle this perceived threat, your body responds with what’s known as the fight-or-flight response.

Your brain begins sending signals to the rest of your body right away, telling it to get ready to face the threat or escape from it.

One important part 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.

Where does that blood come from?

Your extremities, or the parts of your body that aren’t as essential to a fight-or-flight situation. This rapid flow of blood away from your hands and feet can often cause temporary numbness.


If you live with anxiety, you might have some experience with how it can affect your breathing.

When you feel very anxious, you might find yourself breathing rapidly or irregularly. Even though this might not last very long, it can still decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood.

In response, your blood vessels begin to constrict, and your body shuts off blood flow to less essential areas of your body, like your extremities, in order to keep blood flowing where you need it most.

As blood flows away from your fingers, toes, and face, these areas may feel numb or tingly.

If hyperventilation continues, the loss of blood flow to your brain can cause more significant numbness in your extremities and eventually a loss of consciousness.

It’s also worth noting that anxiety can often increase sensitivity to physical and emotional reactions — other people’s reactions, yes, but also your own.

Some people with anxiety, particularly health anxiety, might notice numbness and tingling that happens for a perfectly ordinary reason, like sitting still too long, but see it as something more serious.

This response is pretty common, but it can still frighten you and worsen your anxiety.

How to handle it

If your anxiety sometimes manifests itself in numbness, there are a few things you can try in the moment for relief.

Get moving

Regular physical activity can go a long way toward anxiety-related emotional distress. Getting up and moving around can also help you calm down when you suddenly feel very anxious.

Moving your body can help distract you from the cause of your anxiety, for one. But exercise also gets your blood flowing, and it can help your breathing return to normal, too.

You might not feel up to an intense workout, but you can try:

  • brisk walking
  • a light jog
  • some simple stretches
  • running in place
  • dancing to your favorite song

Try breathing exercises

Belly (diaphragmatic) breathing and other types of deep breathing help many people manage anxiety and stress in the moment.

Deep breathing can help with numbness, too, since these sensations often happen when you have trouble breathing.

If you make a habit of practicing belly breathing whenever you feel anxious, you can help prevent that pesky fight-or-flight response from taking over.

Find more breathing exercises for anxiety here.

Do something relaxing

If you’re working on a task that’s making you anxious, try distracting yourself with a low-key, enjoyable activity that can also help take your mind off whatever’s contributing to your anxiety.

If you feel like you can’t step away, keep in mind that even a quick 10- or 15-minute break can help you reset. You can go back to the stressor later when you feel more equipped to handle it in a productive way.

Try these calming activities:

  • watch a funny or soothing video
  • listen to relaxing music
  • call a friend or loved one
  • have a cup of tea or a favorite beverage
  • spend some time in nature

As your immediate anxiety passes, the numbness probably will, too.

Try not to worry

Easier said than done, right? But worrying about numbness can sometimes make it worse.

If you often experience numbness with anxiety (and then begin to worry even more about the source of the numbness), try tracking the sensations.

Maybe you’re feeling a little anxious right now. Try a grounding exercise or other coping strategy to manage those immediate feelings, but pay attention to the numbness. How does it feel? Where is it located?

Once you get to feeling a little calmer, note whether the numbness has also passed.

If you only experience it along with anxiety, you probably don’t need to be too concerned.

If it comes up when you don’t actively feel anxious, note how you do feel in a journal. Any other emotional or physical symptoms?

Keeping a log of any patterns in the numbness can help you (and your healthcare provider) get more information about what’s going on.

When to see a doctor

Numbness doesn’t always suggest a serious health concern, but in some cases, it could be a sign of something else going on.

It’s wise to make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you experience numbness that:

  • lingers or keeps coming back
  • gets worse over time
  • happens when you make specific movements, such as typing or writing
  • doesn’t seem to have a clear cause

It’s especially important to talk to your healthcare provider right away if numbness happens suddenly or after head trauma, or affects a large part of your body (such as your entire leg instead of just your toes).

You’ll want to get emergency assistance if you experience numbness along with:

  • dizziness
  • sudden, intense head pain
  • muscle weakness
  • disorientation
  • trouble speaking

Here’s one final thing to keep in mind: The best way to relieve anxiety-relates numbness is to address the anxiety itself.

While coping strategies can help a lot, if you live with persistent, severe anxiety, support from a trained therapist can be helpful.

Therapy can help you begin exploring and addressing underlying causes of anxiety, which can lead to improvements in all of your symptoms.

If you notice your anxiety symptoms have started affecting your relationships, physical health, or quality of life, it may be a good time to reach out for help.

Our guide to affordable therapy can help.

The bottom line

It’s not uncommon to experience numbness as an anxiety symptom, so while tingling sensations can feel pretty unsettling, there’s usually no need to worry.

If the numbness keeps coming back or happens with other physical symptoms, you’ll probably want to check in with your healthcare provider.

It never hurts to seek professional support for emotional distress, either —therapy provides a judgment-free space where you can get guidance on actionable strategies to manage anxiety symptoms.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.

Are my neurological symptoms caused by anxiety?

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