Tingly hands panic attack

Can anxiety cause numbness?

Anxiety and panic can both result in numbness and tingling. When a person feels anxious about their health, these symptoms may worsen their anxiety.

When a psychological issue underlies physical problems, doctors call the symptoms psychogenic. Usually, psychogenic numbness is not dangerous and typically gets better with anxiety treatment.

In this article, we explain how anxiety and panic attacks may lead to numbness. We also discuss some other common symptoms of anxiety and when to contact a doctor.

People with anxiety disorders experience physical symptoms as well as emotional and psychological ones. Numbness and tingling are among the most common complaints.

While people who experience this type of numbness usually notice it in the hands or feet, it can occur anywhere in the body.

In some people with anxiety, numbness can initiate an intense cycle of numbness and anxiety. This happens when a person notices the numbness, has a panic attack as a result, and then feels even more anxious and numb.

Some people also note additional symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate, that may further compound the anxiety and numbness.

Anxiety can cause numbness in several ways.

During moments of panic, the blood vessels constrict, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This reduces blood flow to different body parts — the hands and feet in particular — potentially causing tingling, numbness, or a cold feeling.

Feeling anxious also changes behavior. A person may unconsciously tense their muscles, which may lead to unusual or numb muscle sensations.

Some people respond to intense fear by “freezing.” This may cause them to hold their bodies in a position that would otherwise be uncomfortable, such as sitting on a foot or with their legs tightly crossed. This can trigger numbness and tingling.

Moreover, people who self-medicate their anxiety may experience numbness as a result of using drugs or alcohol. Some drugs may cause temporary numbness when a person is experiencing the feeling of being “high.

Additionally, excessive use of alcohol can cause alcoholic neuropathy, which occurs when alcohol has damaged the peripheral nerves. This in turn may lead to numbness and tingling that persists even when a person is no longer feeling anxious.

Some evidence suggests that, in rare cases, certain antianxiety medications may also lead to numbness. A 2004 study details the case of a person experiencing numbness who was taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant that some people use for anxiety.

Numbness from anxiety occurs due to the anxiety itself. It is therefore essential to treat the underlying cause of the anxiety and not the symptoms.

Some treatment options include:

  • antianxiety medication
  • psychotherapy
  • self-care strategies, such as getting exercise or reducing exposure to stress
  • grounding or breathing exercises to help a person regain a sense of control
  • support from family and friends
  • education about anxiety, including how it may cause feelings of numbness

It is important to note that people with anxiety can also have other conditions that result in numbness or tingling. Therefore, if the anxiety gets better and the numbness does not, or if the numbness is constant, a person should seek medical attention for the numbness as a separate issue.

Some other potential causes of numbness include:

  • nerve damage due to an injury or conditions such as diabetes
  • spinal cord or head injuries
  • circulation issues
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • certain medications, such as chemotherapy agents

Learn more about treatment for anxiety here.

Numbness is not a medical emergency unless a person experiences other symptoms, such as chest pain that does not get better when the anxiety eases.

Similarly, anxiety can feel like an emergency, but the feeling of panic usually goes away on its own. While chronic anxiety can have a negative impact on a person’s health and quality of life, a panic attack in itself is not fatal.

However, a person should contact a doctor if:

  • their anxiety improves but the numbness does not
  • the anxiety interferes with their daily life or relationships
  • the numbness follows an injury, is constant, or seems to be getting worse
  • home treatment does not work
  • the anxiety medication is not effective or stops working
  • the anxiety or numbness occurs after a person started taking a new medication

Numbness is not the only manifestation of anxiety. Other symptoms include:

  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • a rapid heart rate or a feeling that the heart is skipping a beat
  • pain or tension
  • a feeling of cold
  • shakiness
  • brain fog
  • inability to focus
  • fear
  • intrusive thoughts
  • preoccupation with dying or other potentially scary notions
  • trouble sleeping
  • inability to relax

The specific pattern of anxiety a person experiences often depends on the diagnosis.

For example, people with generalized anxiety may feel anxious or have physical symptoms. Those with panic disorder may experience sudden bursts of intense physical anxiety that is so severe that it feels like they are dying.

People with post-traumatic stress disorder, on the other hand, may have flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of anxiety here.

Numbness is a common symptom of anxiety. That a person experiences it does not necessarily indicate the existence of an underlying condition.

It is advisable to focus on addressing the causes of the anxiety and seek treatment for it.

However, if the numbness persists even when the anxiety eases, a person should consult a doctor to rule out other potential causes.

How To Manage Tingling Hands Caused By Anxiety

Suffering from anxiety can be a serious challenge. It can also lead to some troubling symptoms that can feel incredibly unusual. One of these issues caused by anxiety are tingling hands.

The tingling feeling often leads to further anxiety, because it makes people worry that something is wrong with their head or nervous system. It's an understandable worry because tingling hands can be caused by nerve issues, vitamin deficiencies, liver disease and more. However, tingling can also be caused by anxiety.

Tingling hands can be a frightening anxiety symptom. Some people experience tremendous fear that something is wrong with their heart or brain. Others worry about more minor but distressing physical causes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome - especially if you work in retail or with computers/typing.

But tingling hands can genuinely be an anxiety symptom. One thing that's true though - when tingling hands are caused by anxiety, there are almost always other anxiety symptoms too.

What Causes Tingling Hands?

First, it's important to remember that the "tingling hands" experience may be different for different people. Some experience sensations of prickling, “crawling”, stinging or even numbness. For some people the sensation is associated with pain in the hands also. 

The more the symptom is affecting your life, the more you should consider seeing a doctor. Despite the likelihood that tingling hands are caused by anxiety, only a doctor can diagnose you for certain, and it's always a good idea to rule out other conditions.

When other issues have been ruled out and anxiety becomes the likely culprit, that's when you need support. But what causes tingling hands? The answer is almost always hyperventilation.

Understanding Hyperventilation in Those With Anxiety

Hyperventilation is often one of the least understood anxiety issues. It occurs when you breathe out too much carbon dioxide (CO2), a component of the air we breathe. While your body does need oxygen and generally breathes out CO2, your body needs a healthy amount of CO2 as well. When you hyperventilate you exhale more CO2 than you breathe in, and the balance is thrown off. 

Most people think of hyperventilation as "breathing too quickly," and this is usually a feature. When you have an anxiety attack/panic attack, you'll often find that you're breathing incredibly fast, and that may cause you to hyperventilate.

But hyperventilation may also occur for other reasons, including:

  • Thinking About Breathing Usually, our body controls our breathing automatically, without us having to think about it. When you focus your attention on your breathing, you start to take conscious control. That may cause you to take in or breathe out more air than your body would naturally, leading to hyperventilation.
  • Taking Deeper Breaths During an anxiety attack, you may feel like you're not getting enough air, and that may cause you to try to take deeper breaths. Unfortunately, in many cases, you did already have enough air and that sensation was misleading, so your response makes your hyperventilation worse.
  • Poor Breathing Habits Another situation that seems to occur more frequently in those with anxiety is that their breathing is more shallow than is helpful. Over time they may have come to breathe faster and more into the chest area, leading to a more rapid and less refreshing breath. 

Anxiety can often lead to hyperventilation, and when it does it can cause a number of different symptoms, including tingling sensations in the hands.

Other Causes of Tingling Hands

Hyperventilation is the most common reason that tingling hands occur in those with anxiety, but it's not the only reason. The fight or flight response can also cause tingling because initially blood is directed away from the extremities. This leads to coldness or possibly numbness in the fingers. When the parasympathetic response kicks in, the blood flows back to the extremities and this can lead to a tingling sensation, like after a leg falls asleep.

Also, tingling hands can occur every day for reasons that are not health-related. For example, if you are sitting on your hands a certain way that reduces the blood circulation or pressing on a nerve it can make your hand start to tingle. If you already have anxiety, you may think about and worry about that tingling more than someone that doesn't have anxiety. It's not unusual for anxiety to cause typical sensations to feel much worse.

Anxiety Over Health

Because of the way anxiety affects the body, it can generate a form of secondary health anxiety itself. This can be one of the reasons that tingling hands can feel so frightening. Panic attacks, for example, can make people over-sensitive to their own physical sensations. When they experience symptoms - like tingling hands - they may interpret them as a sign of serious illness and experience a wave of anxiety that feels uncontrollable.

Anxiety can create your tingling hands, and it can make you react very strongly when you experience them. Anyone that says living with anxiety is easy has likely never tried it before.

How to Stop Tingling Hands From Anxiety

Since tingling hands is most commonly caused by hyperventilation, you should start by gaining awareness of your breathing. Try taking slower breaths is a start. Also, try to consciously breathe into the belly and lower body, rather than just into your chest. At first it may feel like you're not getting a full breath, but remember that hyperventilation causes the feeling of needing more air, even though the opposite is true.

You could also start walking. Make sure that you're getting good blood flow. As the muscles are exercised, your breathing will often adopt a healthier rhythm, and your hyperventilation should decrease. Once you feel you’re managing with your tingling hands, it's time to work on the anxiety itself.  


Tingling hands is a common problem that is not always related to anxiety. Sometimes, a person’s heightened awareness means they notice tingling hands more often. But hyperventilation and other anxiety symptoms can also create this feeling/sensation. Treating anxiety will help.

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What are panic attacks and how to deal with them - Such cases

  • Medical assistance
  • Context
  • Such a question
  • 19. 03. 2017

Narcologist and psychiatrist Alexander Danilin and Andrey Shmilovich, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Head of the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University 9 answer this question to “Such Cases”0019

— What is a panic attack?

- A panic attack is a sudden, uncontrollable outburst of acute fear. It is always accompanied by autonomic disorders: excessive sweating, dizziness, nausea, suffocation, tachycardia, tremor in the arms and legs, burning in the chest. A person develops an unaccountable uncontrollable fear, often the fear of death. They are dangerous because frequent attacks deplete the human psyche and lead to depression.

— How does a panic attack differ from a strong attack of excitement, anxiety, stress?

— Anxiety is a symptom of emotional disorders. Its most common manifestation is a panic attack. In a panic attack, a person completely loses control over his body - his hands go numb, his fingers cramp, his legs give way, his heart rate increases, which causes an unaccountable fear of a heart attack or stroke.

— How long does an attack last?

— Two minutes to half an hour on average.

— What provokes an attack?

- What a person reacts to is connected with the characteristics of his nervous system. Imagine the human brain as a wire that passes a certain number of stimuli per unit of time. If the number of these stimuli is exceeded, something similar to a panic attack may occur.

Some people are predisposed to panic disorders. This is influenced by character traits, unpleasant events from childhood, which our memory carefully hides, and this fear remains at the level of reflexes.

There are trigger factors that provoke an attack: lack of sleep, malnutrition, heavy alcohol consumption, synthetic drugs.

— What to do?

- We need to figure out what causes this stress barrier followed by panic attacks. If, after the very first panic attack, a person finds a good clinical psychologist, he will be very lucky. Good specialists in this field are piece goods. In order not to start this condition, even after the first time, you need to consult a doctor. Ideally with a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist.

— How is it treated?

— Treatment is very individual. Panic attacks are an area of ​​borderline psychiatry, that is, on the border of the norm and pathology. Panic attacks may well be a variant of the norm, and then they do not need to be treated with medication, the help of a psychologist is enough. If there is no way without drugs, then they should be taken only on the recommendation and under the supervision of a doctor.

— What should I do if I have a panic attack?

— In this state, a person does not control himself. And yet, you can try to switch to the muscles. Stop and try in your imagination to sharply clench both hands into a fist ten times. Then, in the same way, in the imagination, squeeze your elbows ten times. And imagine how the muscles contract.

— What should you do if the person next to you is having a panic attack?

- Do not try to calm him down with phrases like: "It's okay", "Don't worry", "Calm down". It must be understood that he does not control himself and his body. At the same time, you can just try to distract the person with a conversation - just start telling something cute, funny and exciting. You can help him restore his breathing - that is, try to breathe slowly and measuredly with him. You can make him bend down so that his head is below his knees - this will help increase blood flow to the brain. You can make him drink a sedative. If the attack is severe, you need to call an ambulance.

Even more important news and good texts from us and our colleagues - in the telegram channel "Takikh Del. " Subscribe!

Numbness of the body and limbs during a panic attack: hands, face and legs

Panic attack is characterized by a number of somatic symptoms and signs of dysfunction of the autonomic system, often the patient is worried about numbness of the hands during a panic attack and other limbs, numbness of the body. A panic attack causes a sharp increase in anxiety, fear, against this background, other symptoms appear that aggravate the patient's condition. These symptoms include:

  • severe dyspnea;
  • dizziness, nausea;
  • numbness in various parts of the body, tingling, pain;
  • weakness;
  • tinnitus;
  • insomnia;
  • palpitations;
  • trembling over the body;
  • increased sweating;
  • fear of death;
  • headaches and other symptoms.

The patient's fear increases, it seems to him that he is dying. Numbness of the body occurs gradually: first the face becomes numb, then the hands and feet become numb. The legs become "cotton", the whole body tingles. This condition disappears after the end of the panic attack.

Body numbness during a panic attack: causes

The causes of this symptom may be various diseases, paresthesia. Paresthesia is a feeling of tingling, burning, crawling all over the body, feeling cold, the symptoms are supplemented by muscular-dystonic, dyskinetic, vasomotor phenomena, depending on the cause that caused it. Paresthesia and acroparesthesia are sensory disorders.

Acroparesthesia is characterized by numbness, tingling and severe pain in the extremities. The disorder develops when peripheral nerves are damaged as a result of hypocalcemia, Farby's disease.

Acroparesthesia occurs in the distal parts of the limbs remote from the axis of the body. It is manifested by numbness of the area around the mouth, legs (feet), hands become numb. Chronic forms of paresthesia are found in tumors of the nervous system, autoimmune and neurodegenerative processes, infectious lesions of the body, alcoholism and other diseases. Symptoms of numbness of the body are not characteristic of panic attacks, signaling serious illnesses:

  • numbness does not go away after the attack ends, lasts more than 4 hours;
  • speech worsens, becomes incoherent;
  • involuntary defecation or urination;
  • abrupt change in the sensitivity of one half of the body;
  • loss of vision for a short time.

In this case, an ambulance should be called immediately. Often, numbness appears after an injury to the head, neck, or spine. Unlike sensory impairment caused by a serious illness or injury, numbness in the body during a panic attack does not lead to complications. Panic attacks and subsequent symptoms appear as a result of a malfunction of the nervous system.

The parasympathetic and sympathetic systems begin to function simultaneously, the sequence of actions is disturbed, a failure occurs. The brain does not recognize the stream of nerve impulses arriving at the same time, cannot decode the signals of nerve cells, a panic attack develops.

Numbness of the limbs during a panic attack: what to do

Numbness of the hands during a panic attack quickly disappears after the attack stops. At the very beginning of the attack, the patient should be taken out into the fresh air, calmly talk to him, put him on a bench. The attack passes within half an hour, then the patient's condition improves. To get rid of numbness and other symptoms of panic attacks, the cause of the disorder should be eliminated. A psychosomatic illness cannot be cured with medication; it is necessary to seek help from a psychologist or psychotherapist.

The first thing a person suffering from increased anxiety should do is adjust his daily routine, diet, give up bad habits. A psychologist with the help of sessions on cognitive-behavioral, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy will teach you how to protect yourself from stress, the ability to understand your own problems, and help you change your attitude towards others. People with a sensitive nervous system who are prone to panic attacks should avoid stressful situations, apply mental health promotion techniques, fully
get enough sleep.

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