Related Medical Issues

How Anxiety Can Create Circulation Problems

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10, 2020

How Anxiety Can Create Circulation Problems

Your blood plays a crucial role when it comes to the functioning of your body. Beyond simply carrying oxygen and nutrients, your blood warm various parts of your body and helps to protect you from illnesses and infections. Your entire circulatory system and related aspects of health depend on your blood flowing appropriately through your veins.

Blood circulation problems can be serious medical issues. But there are a few circulation problems that are really the result of nothing more than anxiety.

Anxiety Circulation Problems Are Not Dangerous

It's important to always speak with a doctor first, when trying to get clarity on what’s going on with your circulation. That's because while anxiety-related circulation problems are not dangerous, heart problems are, and it's always a good idea to have a check-up just to be safe.

Although circulation changes related to anxiety are not dangerous, it may be a scary experience and you might find yourself believing that you are in danger because of what’s going on in your body. All of this can be affected anxiety-related factors, including:

  • Hyperventilation Hyperventilation is the act of breathing too quickly so that your the concentrations of carbon dioxide versus oxygen in your bloodstream go out of sync. Hyperventilation commonly occurs in people who have anxiety and panic attacks, and when it does occur the blood vessels constrict causing blood to flow more slowly throughout the body. This can create its own symptoms including, but not limited to:
    • Cold and tingling hands and feet.
    • Rapid heartbeat.
    • Lightheadedness and feeling faint.
  • Adrenaline Adrenaline is a hormone that is released into the bloodstream when your fight or flight response is triggered - often this happens in the case of anxiety. Adrenaline causes your blood vessels to dilate so that blood can move more quickly through your body. However, in some cases adrenaline can also lead to reduced blood flow: the result can be tingling hands or feet and dizziness, for example.

Circulation fears are also self-fulfilling. In some cases, those with poor circulation from anxiety worry that they may be suffering from heart failure or other heart problems. This may increase your anxiety levels, which ultimately may lead to further circulation problems. In addition, many people check and recheck their blood pressure and heartbeat, and this behavior also may reinforce and increase one’s anxiety.

How to Improve Circulation Problems Caused By Anxiety

When anxiety leads to blood circulation problems, the only way to control them is to control your anxiety. It's the only solution that will allow blood to circulate from your muscles back into your hands and feet, and reduce some of the other issues caused by circulation and anxiousness.

Seeing a trained psychologist can be beneficial. You can also try the following at-home strategies that are known to benefit those with anxiety, including:

  • Exercise Exercise has been proven to be as effective at reducing anxiety symptoms. Regular exercise pumps "good feeling" neurotransmitters into your brain, so that your mood is improved. It also helps to limit stress and offset some of the physiological damage that can happen as a result of stress hormones. Try to do at least 20 minutes of moderate-level exercise every day.
  • Yoga While yoga is a form of exercise, it also has a relaxation component that is especially beneficial, and many people claim that it helps improve circulation and it has been shown to have potential in treating anxiety. It's also a valuable way to spend time with others if you're willing to a yoga studio.
  • Massage Massage has long been considered a valuable anxiety reduction tool, and some studies have shown that massage may also help people control their circulation. It's believed that massage helps "unblock" some parts of the body that seem to block circulation, possible related to muscle knots and other issues.

Still, the main key is to make sure that you are doing whatever it takes to control your anxiety, because this what ultimately underlies your circulation difficulties. Making smart decisions for anxiety relief based on your symptoms is the way forward if you wish to take control of your symptoms.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

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Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient


You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

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