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How Anxiety Turns Your Face Red

It's not uncommon for anxiety to lead to symptoms that are surprising or unusual. Some of them can be so strange that people convince themselves that they may have a serious disorder.

An example of an unusual symptom scientifically is a red face or blushing. When your face turns red from anxiety, it can sometimes be embarrassing, and other times be downright confusing.

Did Anxiety Turn Your Face Red?

Your face turns red for a variety of reasons. Not only does it turn red from anxiety - but it also turns red from anger, excitement, and sexual arousal. Learn if your anxiety is severe enough for a red face and compare your anxiety to others with our free 7-minute anxiety test.

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Introduction to Red Face/Flushing

Your face turning red may be a symptom of anxiety, but it's never the only symptom. Make sure that you take my free 7-minute anxiety test now to know what types of symptoms exist, how severe your anxiety is, and what you can do about them.

While the specific purpose for the body is not entirely clear, most scientists believe that a red face (aka flushing, blushing, or "turning pink") was once a form of non-verbal communication. Early man may not have known words, and so to show specific emotions the body turned up the heat in the face and turned the skin red to show what a person is feeling.

While flushing occurs with several emotions, combined with other non-verbal behaviors the other person can read your emotions and tell when you're nervous, angry, aroused, etc. It's possible that this was advantageous to early man in some way.

But this is just a long way of saying that evolutionarily, scientists have no idea why people's faces turn red. They do, however, know what's happening biologically. Inside of the body, the capillaries in the face dilate, allowing in more blood. That blood then makes your face more visibly red, especially if you have light skin. It may also make your face hotter.

How Anxiety Triggers Flushing

Anxiety triggers this behavior by releasing adrenaline, which is the primary hormone involved in the fight or flight response that is responsible for anxiety. When you feel anxiety, your body responds like it's seeing a predator, and that creates an autonomic arousal that creates a host of changes in your body, one of them being a redder face.

It seems that this reaction can occur even when a person does not feel much anxiety, but it's not clear why. Chances are their body is still experiencing stress or adrenaline behind the scenes.

How Red Face Triggers Anxiety

Of course, anxiety doesn't just trigger flushing. Unfortunately, flushing can also trigger anxiety. Those with anxiety often find that having a redder face causes them a great deal of embarrassment. They want to hide their face in public, which ultimately makes them much more self-conscious and possibly creates more anxiety in the future.

Also, a red face has been linked to some unfortunate diseases, like multiple sclerosis. Rest assured that MS is rare and anxiety is both far more common and causes the same types of symptoms. Nevertheless, the fear is there, so many people with anxiety start to fear that they may have developed the harmful condition.

How to Stop Anxiety Flushing

Once your body has turned on the adrenaline, it's simply a waiting game for the red face to go away. Unfortunately, you cannot reduce adrenaline without time once it's in your body. Going for a walk may help a little as it gets your blood moving, but it still often takes a while for your face to get back to its usual color.

Still, the following are some tips and strategies to keep in mind when you feel like you're suffering from a red face too often and it's causing you discomfort or embarrassment:

  1. Always Be Honest Embarrassment is its own enemy. When you're embarrassed about something and try to hide it, you tend to continue to stay embarrassed for longer and sometimes experience anxiety as a result. So if someone points out that your face seems to have turned red, be willing to tell them that you have anxiety and it sometimes happens. If you try to hide it or pretend something's wrong, it may get worse.
  2. Start Exercising Exercising may not seem like it has anything to do with anxiety, but studies have consistently shown that exercising provides incredible anxiety relief - arguably better than some anxiety drugs. Exercising also improves blood flow and may reduce adrenaline. So make sure that you're exercising regularly.
  3. Learn Breathing Techniques You should also do your best to learn as much as you can about breathing with anxiety. Anxiety is often hard enough, but many people start hyperventilating, which in turn causes a natural increase in their anxiety symptoms. You need to slow down your breathing dramatically to keep the correct carbon dioxide and oxygen balance, which is important for keeping your anxiety levels down.

The purpose of these strategies is not to cure your flushing since that takes time. The purpose is to simply burn off some of the adrenaline and try to make sure that your anxiety doesn't get worse at the moment. You'll still need to commit to a strategy that will fight the anxiety altogether.

I've helped thousands of people that suffered from anxiety related red face cure their anxiety. Make sure you start with my free 7-minute anxiety test. This test is a valuable way to get information on treatments based on your symptoms.

Start the test here, now.

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

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