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How Anxiety Affects Your Hands

While anxiety has a mental component, it affects almost every part of your body. From head to toe, the physical symptoms of anxiety can be significantly disruptive, and in many cases, they can lead to fearing anxiety even more.

One of the most notable areas where the signs of anxiety are prevalent are the hands and fingers. Hands are affected by anxiety in a variety of ways, and in some cases, these issues can be significant enough that they lead to considerable distress and possibly even mild impairment.

Affected Hands = Anxiety?

How do you tell the difference between hands that are affected by arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or anxiety? You talk to your doctor and strongly consider taking my 7-minute anxiety test to get your free anxiety profile.

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Hands Are Affected in Different Ways

Every anxiety disorder is different. Panic disorder can have vastly different physical signs and symptoms than generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, despite all of them falling under the anxiety disorder category. To get a better idea of your anxiety, take my free 7-minute anxiety test now.

The following represent many of the different ways that hands can be affected by anxiety. Note that anxiety and stress are powerful conditions, and it's possible that your affected hand symptoms are not listed below:

  • Shaking The most common hand symptom of anxiety is a restless shaking. This shaking has an obvious cause. When you suffer from anxiety, your body rushes with adrenaline - a hormone that gives your body a tremendous amount of energy, which - when unused - leads to physical agitation. That causes your hands and legs to shake, often visibly.
  • Tingling/Burning/Numbness Another symptom of anxiety that is more common with panic disorder is a tingling sensation in the hands and fingers. This sensation is largely due to an anxiety symptom is known as "hyperventilation" - the act of breathing too quickly or breathing out too much carbon dioxide. Without carbon dioxide, the body restricts blood flow to the extremities, which results in the same feelings as when your hands fall asleep.
  • Trouble Moving Hyper-awareness is also a problem with anxiety disorders. Most of your body's movements are automatic. But when you have anxiety, you may accidentally make those automatic movements more difficult. This can make it feel as though your hands and fingers aren't doing what you want them to, and it's especially noticeable when typing.
  • Restlessness Sometimes anxiety can cause your hands to simply feel restless. Some people feel they need to put something in their hands; others feel they need to do something in their hands. The physical restlessness of anxiety is well known, and it can manifest in many different ways.
  • Cramping Finally, while less common, some people find that their hands exhibit signs of cramping. This is likely due to the combination of muscle tension and dehydration that is common in those with anxiety.

Affected hands are not an unusual anxiety symptom at all. In fact, there are many different causes of hand problems from anxiety, and all of them are a sign that you may benefit from anxiety treatments.

Temporary Relief from Affected Hands

The key way to temporarily relieve any hand problems is to target the symptom directly. Sometimes, all you need to do is take a break - move your hands around so that they feel calmer. There is no immediate way to stop shaking hands without burning off adrenaline, but if they're causing you anxiety then your best bet is to get up and move around so that you burn off some of the excess energy and improve blood flow to your extremities.

Those that are hyperventilating need to gain control of their breathing. Slow down your breathing dramatically. Don't worry about expanding your chest or trying to get a deep breath - remember, even though hyperventilation may cause you to feel like you need more air, it's actually a lack of carbon dioxide that leads to hyperventilation. So take slow breaths, hold at the peak, and help your body regain its carbon dioxide levels.

None of these treatment ideas though are permanent. If you want to truly treat your anxiety related hand issues, then you also need to make sure that you reduce your anxiety.

I've worked with many people that have signs of anxiety, including those with affected hands. Start with my free 7-minute anxiety test now. It will help you understand your anxiety better and gain effective treatment recommendations.

Start the test here.

Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Dec 05, 2017.

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