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4 Ways to Prevent Pins and Needles From Anxiety

Faiq Shaikh, M.D.
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:

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:

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.

Article Resources
  1. Evans, Randolph W. Neurologic aspects of hyperventilation syndrome. Seminars in neurology. Vol. 15. No. 2. 1995.
  2. van den Hout, Marcel A., et al. Waning of panic sensations during prolonged hyperventilation. Behaviour research and therapy 28.5 (1990): 445-448.
  3. Kaplan, Norman M. Anxiety-induced hyperventilation: a common cause of symptoms in patients with hypertension. Archives of internal medicine 157.9 (1997): 945. 
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