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Tingling Feet - An Unusual Anxiety Symptom

Wendy M Yoder, Ph.D.
Tingling Feet - An Unusual Anxiety Symptom

Some of the symptoms of anxiety are unusually frightening. Most of us are used to nausea, tension, sweating, and increased heart rate, but in some cases you may experience an anxiety symptom so disturbing that the symptom alone causes more anxiety.

That's is often the case with tingling feet. Those who find their feet start tingling for no apparent reason often run straight to Google, and find that tingling feet is a symptom of terrible diseases, like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart failure and more. This adds to their anxiety and causes some serious health scares. But in many cases, tingling feet is just another forgotten symptom of anxiety.

Different Types of Symptoms

Everyone describes the tingling feet sensation differently. Some claim it's like their foot fell asleep and is waking up. Others experience more of a pain or burning feeling. All of these may be versions of the same anxiety symptom.

Main Anxiety-Related Causes of Tingling Feet

Tingling feet - and similar sensations - may not seem to be related to anxiety. That's because for many, they're a byproduct of a symptom. When you struggle with anxiety, you become far more prone to hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is known to cause tingling in the hands and feet.

Hyperventilation is when your body takes in more oxygen than it needs and expels too much carbon dioxide. For the person hyperventilating, it can feel as though they're not getting enough oxygen, so you start breathing deeper. Unfortunately this only makes the hyperventilation worse.

When carbon dioxide levels are imbalanced, your body experiences a range of problems related to poor blood oxygen levels. One of them can be tingling in the hands and feet.

Other Causes of Tingling Feet From Anxiety

Nothing about anxiety is that simple. It's possible for several other issues to lead to tingling feet as well..

One common explanation is over-sensitivity. Those with anxiety are often prone to noticing small changes in the way they feel, especially when compared to someone without anxiety. Your feet may tingle and feel lighter all the time. They fall asleep, they appear to lose a little blood here and there - all of this occurs all throughout the day and is rarely an indication of a serious ailment.

But when you have anxiety, you can't help but notice these sensations more. When you do, it triggers more anxiety, which causes you to focus on the tingling as though it is indicative of a larger problem. That's one of the reasons that many people with anxiety disorders also develop health anxiety and panic attacks - because even normal sensations start to feel like something is terribly wrong.

Finally, when you suffer from anxiety, you may also burn away valuable nutrients. For example, those that have severe stress often deplete their magnesium reserves. Magnesium (and vitamin B12, and a few other vitamins) plays a role in nerve health, so in some cases you may simply be suffering from a nutritional deficiency. Talking to your doctor about multivitamin options can be a big help.

How to Reduce the Anxiety of Tingling Feet

Part of overcoming the tingling feet sensation is simply reminding yourself it's nothing to worry about. Talking to your doctor can be a big help - by ruling out diabetes, heart disease, etc., you can learn to be more confident about what your tingling sensations "mean."

But unfortunately that's rarely enough. Those with anxiety often talk themselves into believing that their doctors missed something. So you'll also need to figure out how to distract yourself from your worried thoughts. It's not necessarily important how you do this as long as you do it in a way that is healthy for your mood. For example:

The goal is to essentially take your mind off of your distressing symptom and put it on something that isn't as distressing. Something as simple as drinking water can be a huge benefit to those with tingling symptoms simply because looking for the water and drinking it is enough to make them focus less on the way their feet feel.

Still, the best way to improve symptoms is to reduce anxiety symptoms. Only by decreasing the amount of focus and energy you place onto those negative sensations, and stop the way your mind wanders and worries will you be able to successfully find some relief. Tingling feet may happen, but if you can learn to control your anxiety you'll stop worrying about how your feet feel, and you'll potentially stop your tingling feet altogether.

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