"Numb" can be a scary term in both the physical and psychological world. When someone says they're feeling numb, it can be related to a variety of health conditions affecting the body, or a result of psychological issues affecting the mind.
Interestingly, in both cases, numbness may be caused by anxiety. Anxiety numbness is actually very common - both physically and psychologically - and is often made worse by the anxiety that many experience as a result of that numbness.
Numbness = Anxiety?
Both physical and emotional numbness can be frightening, and there are a variety of health conditions that can cause those experiences. They may also be caused by nothing more than anxiety.
It's difficult to imagine that anxiety is the cause, but anxiety can have a profound effect on your body and mind.
Click here to get an idea of your anxiety and numbness.
Anxiety and Its Effects On Feeling
Anxiety is an extremely powerful condition - more powerful than most people realize. Even low levels of anxiety are constantly affecting the mind and the body in ways that even now doctors are only just beginning to understand.
Numbness is rarely the only symptom, however, but it is one that causes a great deal of stress. My 7 minute anxiety test I developed to be a free way to see what other issues you might be suffering from that indicate you have anxiety, so if you haven't yet, take the test now.
Numbness can be defined in two different ways:
- Physical Numbness - Losing feeling or getting a tingling sensation in some part of your body.
- Emotional Numbness Feeling as though there isn't much happiness or interest in the world.
Both types of numbness can be incredibly troubling, and in some cases terrifying. Yet each one can genuinely be caused by anxiety.
Physical Numbness and Anxiety
Physical numbness is one some part of your body seems to be devoid of feeling. In some cases it may have no feeling at all. In other cases there may still be some feeling that goes along with a tingling sensation, much like what occurs when some part of your body is asleep.
Physical numbness is most common in your fingers and toes, but it can occur nearly anywhere on your body including:
That part of your body may experience no feeling at all, or it may feel as though it has gotten very weak.
Physical anxiety numbness may occur for several reasons. The most likely reason has to do with blood flow. When you're feeling anxious, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode, your body heats up, and blood rushes to the areas of your body that it feels are most needed to fight or run away, and when it does you lose feeling in different body parts.
Another potential cause, however, is hyperventilation. Anxiety often leads to hyperventilation, and when you're not breathing correctly, that hyperventilation can lead to feelings of numbness or tingling - especially in the extremities and face.
Hyperventilation and Anxiety
Hyperventilation is an extremely common problem with anxiety, and one that is widely undiagnosed. Hyperventilation occurs from:
- Breathing too quickly.
- Naturally breathing breaths that are too shallow.
- Breathing in too much oxygen because you feel you can't get a deep breath.
It's the cause of a host of potential anxiety symptoms, including numbness, and unfortunately far too many people overlook their hyperventilation as a cause of their anxiety symptoms.
To get an idea of whether or not hyperventilation is affecting you, take my free 7 minute anxiety test now.
Emotional Numbness and Anxiety
Becoming physically numb can be incredibly frightening, but becoming emotionally numb can also be very serious. Emotional numbness is essentially feeling emotionless. It's related a great deal to depression and extreme stress, and it occurs most often in those with bouts of severe anxiety.
Experiencing that much stress can take a toll on your mental health in ways that are hard for others to imagine. Often those that experience anxiety attacks often, of profound stress for a long period of time, are left feeling very drained, and that drained feeling can ultimately turn into a lack of emotions altogether.
The highs in life feel less high, and the lows are less impactful because the anxiety attacks cause people to give up. Emotional numbness is a very serious problem with severe, long lasting anxiety issues, which is why it is so important to seek treatment.
Numbness Causing Anxiety
Also, it should be mentioned that numbness in general can increase anxiety, because often the reaction that you have to your numbness is fear that the numbness is something much more serious. This is especially true of those that suffer from anxiety attacks, where some anxiety triggers numbness which triggers more anxiety, which ends up causing a severe panic attack.
How to Reduce Anxiety Numbness
Numbness is, in some ways, a "symptom of a symptom." Your anxiety is causing stress and possibly hyperventilation, which in turn is causing physical or emotional numbness. That's why it's so important to take advantage of recommended treatment options.
There are a few things you can do right away:
- Control Breathing - If hyperventilation is contributing to your anxiety, regain control of your breathing. Take smaller, calmer, slower breaths that give you enough oxygen without over-breathing.
- Laugh - Laughing is a cure for anxiety. It's a tough one - especially with emotional numbness - but if you can find something that always makes you laugh, like stand-up comedy, your anxiety should decrease.
- Run - Exercise and running are profoundly effective tools for dealing with anxiety and stress. Go out for a jog, and see if that helps stimulate a reduction in your stress hormones.
From there, you need to make sure that you're taking the necessary steps to control your anxiety.
Start by taking the free anxiety test I developed. I've used it to help thousands of people deal with their anxiety, many of whom were suffering from numbness. Taking the anxiety test is the first step towards getting your anxiety under control.
So if you haven't yet, take the test now.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.