Understanding Anxiety Numbness from Panic Attacks

Why does my face feel numb when I do something like going for a boat ride?   It’s likely that you are feeling anxious and are experiencing a mild panic response.  Here’s why it is happening and some ideas about what you can do.

Why would a boat ride cause a panic response?

Individuals may develop apprehensions about being on or near boats due to various experiences. Perhaps a negative incident occurred while traveling by boat, such as seasickness or a frightening encounter during a storm.  Maybe a particularly impactful boat disaster film could have left a lasting impression. Regardless of the initial trigger, a link between the concept of boating  and a sense of danger has been established in your mind. This association is strong enough that getting out on the open water can be a trigger.

Why would my face get numb?

Anxiety often leads to numbness in different body areas, a result of the body’s stress response affecting nerve sensitivity and blood flow due to stress hormones. This numbness or tingling can manifest in the skin or muscles of various parts, such as the arms, hands, fingers, toes, legs, feet, head, face, stomach, mouth, tongue, lips, or elsewhere.  Our clients commonly mention tingling lips.

One notable symptom of anxiety-induced numbness is a tingling sensation in the face or lips. This is because our faces have an extensive network of nerves, making them more prone to increased sensitivity when we’re anxious. Anxiety can also cause blood vessels to constrict, leading to reduced blood flow not just to the face but to other parts of the body as well.

Understanding Anxiety Numbness

Anxiety numbness, a common yet disconcerting symptom experienced during panic attacks, often leaves individuals feeling puzzled and worried. This phenomenon, where one experiences a loss of sensation or a tingling feeling in various parts of their body, can be alarming. However, understanding its causes and learning effective coping strategies can significantly aid in managing this condition.

Panic attacks are intense episodes of fear or discomfort that arise abruptly and peak within minutes. During these episodes, the body’s fight-or-flight response is activated, leading to a surge of adrenaline. This adrenaline rush can cause various physical symptoms, including anxiety and numbness. The numbing sensation is primarily a result of the body redirecting blood flow to vital organs as a part of its survival mechanism. In the process, less crucial areas, like the extremities, may receive less blood, resulting in numbness or tingling.

Another factor contributing to anxiety numbness is hyperventilation, a common occurrence during panic attacks. When individuals hyperventilate, they tend to breathe quickly and shallowly, leading to a decrease in carbon dioxide levels in the blood. This reduction can cause a narrowing of blood vessels, which in turn, can lead to tingling or numbness, particularly in the hands, feet, and face.

Understanding that anxiety numbness is a physiological response to stress and not a sign of a more serious medical condition can be reassuring. However, if you experience these symptoms, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out other potential causes.

What can I do to fix this?

There may not be a quick fix but there are certainly things you can do to lessen the frequency and severity.  Managing anxiety numbness involves addressing both the panic attacks and the numbing symptoms. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness can be effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Learning and practicing these techniques during calm moments can make them more effective when a panic attack occurs.

Engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining a balanced diet also play a crucial role in managing anxiety symptoms. Exercise, in particular, is known to reduce stress and improve mood due to the release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators.

Therapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is highly effective in treating panic disorders. CBT helps individuals understand the patterns and triggers of their anxiety, and teaches them how to respond to these panic episodes in a healthier way.

Additionally, grounding techniques can be particularly useful during a panic attack. These techniques help to redirect attention from the anxiety and numbness to the present moment. Techniques such as touching or describing objects around you, focusing on your breathing, or engaging in a conversation can help ground you during an attack.

If the frequency of panic attacks is high and significantly impacts your quality of life, medication may be prescribed by a healthcare professional. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders and can help reduce the occurrence of panic attacks.

Help with Anxiety in the Denver Area

While anxiety numbness during panic attacks can be a distressing experience, understanding its causes and implementing effective coping strategies can greatly alleviate the symptoms. 

Let’s figure out what triggers your anxiety and find some mindful methods that help you deal with life in a non-anxious, healthy manner. Please contact our Client Care Coordinator for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation today and read more on the Anxiety Page on our website.

Self Care Impact Counseling envisions a new age of counseling for adolescents, adults, couples & groups that makes a REAL difference with core values of GROWTH | BALANCE | COMPASSION | INNER HARMONY.