Anxiety may occur inside of your mind, but it often leads to a host of reactions that can cause anxiety to affect your face in a variety of ways. Face symptoms aren't common with anxiety, but there are many issues that can affect the way the face feels and looks.
But before you worry about others judging you, most people cannot recognize anxiety when they see it. Often the symptoms are either invisible or too subtle to be seen by even the most trained eyes.
What is Your Anxiety Score?
The more severe your anxiety, the more likely you will have upsetting symptoms that don't fit into the traditional "anxiety" box. Take our free 7 minute anxiety test to score your anxiety, compare it to others, and receive treatment recommendations.
Can Anxiety Be Seen in Your Face?
In a general sense, it's possible that someone can tell when you're suffering from fear. A lack of responsiveness might give it away, for example, especially if you have panic attacks. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to get a better idea of the types of symptoms we're talking about.
But there are a few things you need to understand about anxiety:
- Most people have no ability to tell when someone is anxious.
- Most people don't care that you're anxious and won't think differently of you.
- Trying to hide your anxiety makes your anxiety worse and could cause worsened symptoms.
That latter point is especially important. People are often overly concerned about someone else being able to tell that they have anxiety. But in moments of extreme anxiety, trying to hide it all inside of your head may actually increase the severity of your anxiety symptoms. It's better to not concern yourself with what others think and do what you need to in order to calm your anxiety.
There are also several symptoms of anxiety that affect the face specifically. For example:
A tingling, number, or burning face is symptom of anxiety that can cause a great deal of fear. That's because facial tingling is often linked to a disease that scares many people with anxiety: multiple sclerosis. MS can cause face tingling, which is why so many people that have a tingling face often experience severe anxiety as a result.
But MS is very rare, and anxiety - especially anxiety attacks - can cause a tingling face due to a variety of factors, including hyperventilation. The only way to tell the difference is to speak to a doctor, but rest assured that while a tingling face is an unusual anxiety symptom, it's not a rare one.
Anxiety can also cause a reddened face. This is caused by dilation of the capillaries in the face. Red face/flushing is generally fairly temporary, though it can last for a few hours or more. A redder face is a visible symptom of anxiety, but not one generally associated with anxiety.
During anxiety attacks, the body activates the fight or flight system - a system designed to help you react quickly to fear. One of the mechanisms that is activated is the pupils, which dilate so that your eyes can get more light and respond more quickly. Unfortunately, since you're neither running away nor fighting, that pupil dilation serves very little purpose, and in some cases can cause eye pain or sensitivity to light.
Anxiety can affect the lips as well, though these are generally not visible symptoms and rarely cause much distress even in those that often have anxiety. Anxiety can cause you to bite your lip, which may lead to bleeding. Furthermore, anxiety may also dry out the lips because of mouth breathing that may happen when you're anxious.
Overcoming the Face Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety can affect the face in a variety of different ways. There is no specific strategy for overcoming face symptoms altogether. Slowing your breathing may help with facial tingling, and walking around can improve blood flow to reduce flushing, but overall each face symptom is simply the result of your anxious state.
The most important thing to remember is not to worry about your face symptoms with regard to those around you. Remember, the more you try to hide your anxiety and the more ashamed you are of it, the more anxiety you're going to experience. The vast majority of people will not notice when you're anxious, and if they do they'll want to help you, not judge you.
You'll then need to take steps to cure your anxiety forever. I've worked with hundreds of people with face related anxiety symptoms. Start with my free 7 minute anxiety test. The test will examine your symptoms and provide you with tools and information on how to treat it.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.