How to Avoid Being Paralyzed by Stress? (13 Expert Tips)

In this article, we will try to answer the question ‘Can you be paralyzed by stress?’. In addition, we also look at a true story that proves that you can be paralyzed by stress. The blog also tries to understand what is conversion disorder, signs of stress, and how to manage stress. 

Can you be paralyzed by stress? 

Yes, one can be paralyzed by stress. Feelings of stress and overwhelm can lead to a state of paralysis.

Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. Stress is a normal part of life. You can experience stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts. Even positive life changes such as a promotion, a mortgage, or the birth of a child produce stress.

There is a plethora of stress in our lives these days. Divorce, layoffs, threats of terrorism – these are just a few of the many things that can leave our mind, body, and soul feeling anxious.

Stress is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be an essential form of our emotional state for balanced growth in our life. A conscious form of stress known as the eustress motivates us, prepares us for things we have to face, and sometimes gives us the energy to take action when we need to. However, excessive stress known as distress can hinder our ability to set goals, focus on what we want to achieve, and to live in harmony with our family.

Not to our surprise paralysis by stress also has a psychological name for it. A somatoform disorder is known as Conversion Disorder where mental or emotional distress causes physical symptoms without the existence of an actual physical condition.

Conversion Disorder 

At the point when you have conversion disorder, you can not control your physical reaction. This reaction normally includes either your senses or motor control. All in all, you experience a horrible or stressful occasion, and your body reacts with tremors, paralysis of an arm or leg, or something comparative. There isn’t an underlying physical condition, like an injury, causing the tremors or paralysis. Instead, the physical condition is caused by stress or emotional trauma.

Symptoms of Conversion Disorder 

The symptoms of conversion disorder vary from person to person. These symptoms also vary in severity. The symptoms may occur one time or repeat when the stressor is recalled. They may include:

  • tremors, possibly with limited consciousness
  • paralysis, usually in an arm or leg
  • balance issues
  • weakness or numbness in arms or legs
  • vision problems, such as blindness or double vision
  • swallowing difficulty, which may come from feeling like there’s a lump in your throat
  • slurred speech or an inability to speak
  • partial or total hearing loss

What are the causes?

Researchers are still looking for a specific cause of Conversion disorder. However, it is typically caused by some sort of extreme stress, emotional trauma, or depression. It’s your body’s response to something you perceive as a threat.

The physical symptoms may come about as a way to try and resolve or relieve whatever is causing extreme mental stress. For example, a police officer or soldier who experiences mental trauma from the thought of shooting and possibly killing someone may have paralysis in their hands. The physical symptoms create a way to avoid whatever is causing the stress.

Paula’s Story: A true story on paralysis by stress.

Stress is a term that is normally thrown around in everyday life. A minor inconvenience caused can lead to stress. But this stress in high doses can have a major impact on a person’s life, similar to that of Paula’s. 

In 2016,  Paula a woman in her mid-thirties was working as a strategy consultant in London. The days were long, her workload was heavy, but she was hardworking and dedicated to her job – so she gladly put in the hours. But those hours were painfully long. For six months straight, Paula was working 80-hour weeks – with no weekends off.

On November 2, 2016, it all started to take a toll on her when she began to feel funny during a conference call. She started feeling a numbing, tingling sensation down the right-hand side of her face and she started to feel a little dizzy. Not too concerned she just put her head down and carried on working. In no time Paula was in no condition to work. Her colleagues looked at her in a state of shock and horror as her face had started to droop on one side – a symptom of stroke. She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors realized she does not have a stroke and was sent home. 

Even though the entire episode was scary, Paula went on to the office to continue her normal life, where her symptoms worsened by December. It emerged her attacks were a rare and very severe form of migraine triggered by stress. She was signed off work during Christmas. However, as she rejoined in January 2017 her attacks returned. “Every day I would wake up and within a few hours an attack would start,” she said. Where initially only half her face had been temporarily paralyzed, now it was her hand, arm, and her leg, too. “I’d be unable to control or move them,” Paula recalled.

She became mentally disoriented, too, as a result of the high levels of stress she’d endured for so long. What happened to Paula was scary, but with the support of her friends, family, and employers, as well as great medical treatment, she’s finally got herself back to normal. 

Signs that you are stressed 

Everyday stress as we have seen can have an impact on our lives, be it small or as big as paralysis. Chronic stress can wear down the body’s natural defenses, leading to a variety of physical symptoms, including the following:

  • Dizziness or a general feeling of “being out of it.”
  • General aches and pains.
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw.
  • Headaches.
  • Indigestion or acid reflux symptoms.
  • Increase in or loss of appetite.
  • Muscle tension in neck, face or shoulders.
  • Problems sleeping.
  • Racing heart.
  • Cold and sweaty palms.
  • Tiredness, exhaustion.
  • Trembling/shaking.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea.
  • Sexual difficulties.

In addition to these impacts of stress, it can also have certain behavioral changes in a person. 

Starts to Procrastinate Constantly: Procrastination forms from the denial of fighting the obvious power of stress in our is seen that when we are in a stressful situation, we procrastinate to avoid facing the reality.  You worsen your loss by lack of action, yet are under intense stress that paralyzes your ability to think. You start to procrastinate to the point that you are unable to do things that were essential in life. 

Your Life Seems Chaotic: This is an apparent sign of stress and despair. If you see bills piling up on your desk with some not even opened to avoid the fear of added stress, you’ve succumbed to the power of stress. It was simply surrendered to the thoughts of defeat that stress reins over our heads.

Mindless Eating: Have you ever noticed yourself reaching for food or forgetting to eat meals when you are under intense stress? People tend to skip meals under intense stress, and when they do eat they lack focus on the food in front of them. This behavior stems from the fact that stress inhibits all the thought faculties of the brain and acts aggressively against any thoughts of courage or fight to dispel the power of stress. Food alters emotions. It’s estimated that over 150 million people are on the diet now and most of these adults are repeaters who have tried almost everything. This is a stunning revelation that underlines the pervasive power of stress in our culture.

Aloofness: When feelings of sinking into a black hole take possession of your mind, it’s the stress that has spelled havoc on your mind. When a stressful event occurs in your life you feel feeble and aloof. It seems like you are on an island with no hope to swim across the ocean to revive your life. 

You’re Aggressive Rather than Assertive: Aggressive behavior often arises as self-defense from perceived attacks by others, but these attacks usually never eventuate. When our mind is stress-ridden, we think that everyone intends to inflict emotional harm on us. You get angry for paltry reasons that you can not expound in your own mind. Instead of being assertive, you become aggressive. Stress takes over your mind, body, and soul.

How to manage everyday stress? 

People can learn to manage stress and lead happier healthier lives. You may want to begin with the following tips:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Learn to manage your time more effectively.
  • Set limits appropriately and say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life.
  • Make time for hobbies and interests.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviors to reduce stress.
  • Seek out social support. Spend enough time with those you love.
  • Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn more healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.

Practice the following steps to avoid a scary episode of what stress can do to you. Hans Syle, father of stress research believes that if not taken care of, stress can be fatal. 

If you want to make someone you love feel a little better, less stressed, and more relaxed, try these Best Gifts for Stress & Anxiety.

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


In this article, we have tried to answer the question ‘Can you be paralyzed by stress?’. In addition, we have also looked at a true story that proves that you can be paralyzed by stress. The blog also tried to understand what is conversion disorder, signs of stress, and how to manage stress. 

FAQs: Paralyzed by stress

What is mental paralysis?

Mental paralysis is when a  person becomes paralyzed due to a continuous rollercoaster of emotions such as sadness, anger, worry, fright, and confusion. This can lead to conditions of depression and anxiety.

What causes temporary paralysis?

Temporary paralysis often results from a genetic condition that leaves an individual susceptible to periods of paralysis after exposure to certain triggers. These triggers may include temperature fluctuations, extreme temperatures, stress, hunger, excitement, or traumatic experiences

Can panic attacks cause temporary paralysis?

People who suffer from panic attacks often say their acute anxiety feels like a heart attack, as many of the symptoms can seem the same. Both conditions can be accompanied by shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating, a pounding heartbeat, dizziness, and even physical weakness or temporary paralysis.


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