What Causes Chest Pain From Anxiety
The cause of chest pain depends on a couple of factors. First, whether or not someone is experiencing an anxiety attack or a panic attack is important. Anxiety attacks are typically triggered by past trauma. A smell, a song, a person, or a stressful situation can trigger an anxiety attack. With panic attacks, physical symptoms will present themselves with little to no provocation they can come out of nowhere. Both panic and anxiety attacks can cause chest pain.
Secondly, the way someone is breathing while experiencing panic or anxiety can affect how their chest feels. A spike in adrenaline caused by fear can increase the rate of breaths per minute. The faster we breathe, the tighter our chest muscles get. This can often feel like a heart attack. In reality, its just our muscles responding to stress. This is the most common kind of anxiety-related chest pain, and its manageable.
Adrenaline and cortisol are hormones in the body that can narrow the arteries inside the heart. This sounds scary, but its simply the bodys defense mechanism. When this happens, its called stress cardiomyopathy. All this means is that your heart rate becomes abnormally high due to your stress levels. It may feel alarming, especially for those who have never experienced stress cardiomyopathy before. It can cause uncomfortable and sometimes extreme chest pain. With treatment, instances of stress cardiomyopathy can be greatly reduced or eliminated.
What Are The Symptoms Of Panic And Anxiety Attacks
Because of the state of alert our bodies go into when panicking, its no surprise that when people describe panic attacks they say, it felt like I was dying.
Adrenaline-fueled physical responses are built into us from birth. They exist for our survival. Experiencing a panic attack means the untimely activation of these built-in responses. Here is an example of a normal, physical reaction to danger:
You just got off work, youre in the parking garage, and youre headed to your car. Its late, and theres no one else at your office. Suddenly, you hear a sound behind you. Your heart rate quickens. You feel a weight on your chest. Your muscles get tight, and you feel tension in your shoulders. Youre poised to run at the mere thought of someone sneaking up on you. The mind recognizes danger, and the body goes into a fight or flight mode. Adrenaline makes us think and act faster so that we can protect ourselves in situations just like this. This is a normal, biological response.
Panic and anxiety attacks range in severity and symptoms from person to person. The common denominator for most panic attacks is a physical reaction or response. Someone experiencing a panic attack will physically feel it in their body. Here are some of the common symptoms of panic attacks:
- Chest pain or chest tightening
Is It Anxiety Or Something Else
Because so many things can cause chest tightness, its one of the trickiest symptoms to diagnose, says Dr. Cazabon.
One way to suspect its anxiety is to think about whats going on in your life at the moment. Is there any kind of clear stressor thats happening that might explain why youre more anxious? says Dr. Gaynes. Trouble at work or in a relationship may help explain the symptom. So may feelings of fear.
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How To Treat Anxiety Chest Pain
Fortunately, if you have pain in your chest from anxiety, there are a number of treatment options you can try. First and foremost, in-person or online therapy can be extremely helpful in learning how to manage your anxiety and alleviate your symptoms.
A therapist can use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help you restructure the thought processes that may be leading to your anxiety and contributing to your chest pain. Many people find this route of treatment preferable if theyre hoping to avoid medication.
However, you should know that anxiety medicationis another effective form of treatment for many people. However, therapy and medication arent the only two ways you can handle chest tightness anxiety.
You can also try:
Anxiety disorder symptoms can be challenging enough, even without chest pain. Additionally, t can become so much worse when you have the fear that chest pain often brings on. To eliminate the possibility that something more is going on, you should see a doctor or healthcare provider to be evaluated any time you have chest tightness anxiety, heart palpitations, or any other type of chest pain. This can rule out any other conditions if youre still unsure.
If you need help managing your anxiety, reach out to Talkspace today. Our licensed therapists are specialized in anxiety in teens and adults so you can get the treatment you need.
Relief For Chest Pain Caused By A Panic Attack
During a panic attack, the following strategies can help you to manage the symptoms:
- Focus on controlling your breathing breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose for three seconds, hold for two seconds and breathe out for three seconds. You may want to close your eyes to help you focus. By concentrating on your body and your breathing, you can break the panic cycle, calm your hyperventilation and reduce your chest pain
- Remind yourself that this moment will pass panic attacks can be incredibly frightening to experience. There are occasions where some may experience anxiety chest pain all day, but when you are having a panic attack, try to repeat a positive phrase such as: I know this is a panic attack and I know it will pass. This can serve as a reminder that the moment will disappear just as it appeared. Recognising the transience of a panic attack can help to lessen the worry caused by the symptoms, helping the panic attack to subside
- Refocus when you feel a panic attack start to pass, begin to focus on your surroundings rather than on the experience. Think carefully about what you can see, hear, taste, smell and touch. You may also want to hone in on a particular object, and think carefully about its shape, colour and size
There are also preventative measures you can take to avoid panic attacks, which include the following:
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How Get Rid Of Tightness In Chest From Anxiety
Chest pain is a common symptom of anxiety. Try these tips to alleviate it.
Dr. Vivian Sun is a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her medical degree from University of Maryland and psychiatry training at University of Pennsylvania and Stanford. She is board certified in general and child/adolescent psychiatry and specializes in the treatment of conditions such as ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness. She holds a bachelor’s degree in both Psychology and Sociology and is a certified sleep coach.
An estimated 40 million adults in the US have anxiety and experience symptoms including nervousness, rapid breathing and a pounding heart, according to Mayo Clinic. Those are the typical anxiety symptoms that many people are familiar with. One lesser known symptom is chest pain.
Tightness in the chest is often a physical manifestation of panic or anxiety attacks. According to a 2018 study, 30 to 40% of visits to the emergency room for chest pain unrelated to a heart attack are due to anxiety. Here’s everything you should know about anxiety chest pain and how to tell it apart from a heart attack.
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Treatment Options For Heartburn From Anxiety
Traditional heartburn treatments only have a moderate effect on anxiety heartburn. Eating smaller meals, taking antacids, and eating foods that do not contribute to heartburn are a good place to start. But theyâre only going to do half the job, as many people that experience heartburn from anxiety fail to get complete relief when they utilize these treatments alone.
Some of those with anxiety claim to get relief from jogging and other forms of exercise. However, it should be noted that in general, exercise actually makes acid reflux temporarily worse. In the long term, though, it helps a lot with heartburn. While these options may prove helpful, there is one thing that should be considered first by people looking to get rid of their heartburn anxiety: address the root of the problem by treating your underlying anxiety!
Anxiety can trigger heartburn in several ways, from muscle tension to digestion changes to hormone alterations. It can also be a trigger for anxiety, especially in those with hypersensitivity as a result of panic attacks or health fears. Heartburn can often be treated with dietary changes and over-the-counter medications, although anxiety will need to be treated concurrently to keep the symptoms away.
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Why Does Anxiety Cause Chest Tightness
When youre faced with stress, fear, or a challenge that causes anxiety, this activates the flight-or-fight response, which ultimately helps the body prepare to face the danger or protect itself from that danger.
Part of the fight-or-flight response involves tensing the muscles, which can cause feelings of stiffness or tightness in different parts of the body.
When your body is subjected to stress, it also produces higher levels of hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol.
Its suggested that during times of panic,¹ you can experience an increased heart rate, which may cause chest tightness however, the conclusions from research arent clear.
How To Differentiate Between Chest Pain Due To Anxiety And Chest Pain Due To Cardiac Factors
There is no clear cut way of knowing whether a chest pain is being caused by anxiety or whether it is a cardiac related pain but there are some subtle differences which are illustrated below:
Chest Pain Due to Anxiety: Chest pain caused due to anxiety tends to be more sharper. This pain is generally localized to a specific region. It is usually near the middle of the chest
Chest Pain Due to Cardiac Problems: Chest pain caused due to cardiac causes tends to be a radiating pain, which radiates to the shoulder on the left side and the jaw. This pain tends to be dull in nature. It is a squeezing type of pain and lasts longer than 10 minutes. There is also difficulty with breathing.
Both chest pain due to anxiety and due to cardiac issues are quite similar and it is always better to get checked up for cardiac causes in case an individual experiences persistent chest pain just to be on safer side.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Afib
AFib also causes dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness or extreme tiredness, and chest pain.
A few people experience AFib for several days at a time before their heartbeat returns to average. Others may experience AFib for a longer period or, it may become chronic.
AFib raises the risk of stroke and heart failure, regardless of whether the flutters are temporary or permanent. You are at risk of having a stroke if your blood does not flow continuously through your body.
Its also worth noting that some people with AFib dont have any heart flutters or other clinical manifestations at all. Occasionally, AFib is discovered during a routine checkup.
Are Heart Palpitations From Anxiety Dangerous
Although heart palpitations can be alarming, most arent dangerous. They usually go away after the anxiety-causing situation passes.
Less commonly, heart palpitations can be a sign of a serious health problem, such as arrhythmia . These heart palpitations may feel like they cause anxiety rather than follow it. If you have palpitations along with chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness or confusion, seek medical help right away.
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Remedies To Get Rid Of Anxiety Chest Pain
Once you realize your chest pain doesnt stem from the heart, there are several techniques you can do to reduce the pain and control your anxiety. These often involve training both mind and body, which will take time some time to master. Learning the following techniques can be a great starting point to aid you in controlling your anxiety.
Deep breathing: Practicing deep breaths can calm both the mind and body. Also, when this technique is mastered, it will help normalize heart rate, which is a contributor to chest pain. It is recommended to find a quiet room or area and inhale for 10 seconds, holding for one second, then exhaling for another 10 seconds.Self-realization: If you suffer from a chronic anxiety disorder, one of the first steps is to recognize you have a disorder. This will help your mind and body fully commit to finding treatments and methods that work for you, helping you better control your anxiety.
Visualize a beautiful scene: Thinking of a place that you have been to that made you calm and relaxed and transporting yourself there mentally can be especially helpful in unavoidable moments of anxiousness.
Take care of your health: By taking good care of your body, getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating well, your body will regulate hormones and also take good care of your mind. While this may not completely eliminate your risk of suffering from anxiety attacks, it will fight against them.
What Else Should I Know About Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder may be extremely anxious and fearful, since they are unable to predict when the next episode will occur. Panic disorder is fairly common and affects about 6 million adults in the U.S. Women are twice as likely as men to develop the condition, and its symptoms usually begin in early adulthood.
It is not clear what causes panic disorder. In many people who have the biological vulnerability to panic attacks, they may develop in association with major life changes and major lifestyle stressors. There is also some evidence that suggests that the tendency to develop panic disorder may run in families. People who suffer from panic disorder are also more likely than others to suffer from depression, attempt suicide, or to abuse alcohol or drugs.
Fortunately, panic disorder is a treatable condition. Psychotherapy and medications have both been used, either singly or in combination, for successful treatment of panic disorder. If medication is necessary, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications, certain antidepressants or sometimes certain anticonvulsant drugs that also have anti-anxiety properties, or a class of heart medications known as beta-blockers to help prevent or control the episodes in panic disorder.
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Frightening Symptoms Of Anxiety
Chest tightness is an anxiety symptom that often causes a severe amount of distress. That is because chest tightness has a negative connotation that links it to severe health conditions. This can be very daunting for individuals who do not know much about the physical effects of stress and anxiety in their lives.
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Easy Ways To Get Rid Of Anxiety Chest Tightness Fast
How to overcome anxiety chest tightness? Anxiety creates a psychological and emotional state that people create when they feel cornered, worried, pressured, or concerned. When a person has issues with controlling them, anxiety can become a part of their everyday lives.
It can show in different forms, including panic attacks, social anxiety, and phobia. Chest tightness is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. It is also the scariest one as it results in difficulty breathing and may be confused with a heart attack.
Normally, chest pain or chest tightness caused by anxiety lasts for 10 minutes or so and occurs together with other anxiety symptoms. Also, it is not likely to affect your back and arms. While it may be scary to experience, chest tightness caused by anxiety is completely harmless. Pay great attention to chest pain, as it may be a symptom of another health condition.
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Difference Between Anxiety Chest Pain Vs Heart Attack Chest Pain
Anxiety chest pain and chest pain due to a heart attack are often confused with each other, as they both present with chest pain. Chest pain in general can be a hard symptom to diagnose. However, there are some key differences between chest pain and anxiety and chest pain from a heart attack.
- Fear of impending doom
- Weakness in the neck
These symptoms, along with anxiety, are often the result of stress hormones that have been released in the bloodstream. They can cause a number of physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body that act to get it ready for a perceived danger. This is commonly referred to as a stress response or fight or flight.
Chest Pains Anxiety Symptoms Common Descriptions
- You feel an unusual tightness or pressure in your chest.
- You feel an unusual pain or shooting pains in your chest.
- You are experiencing sharp stabbing pains in your chest.
- It feels like your chest muscles are unusually tight.
- It feels like a chest muscle or muscles are twitching or trembling.
- You feel a burning, numbness, an uneasiness, or fullness in the chest area.
- You feel a heaviness in your chest.
The chest area includes the diaphragma sheet of internal muscle that extends across the bottom of the rib cage.
Chest pain anxiety symptoms can persistently affect one area of the chest only, can shift and affect another area or areas of the chest, and can migrate all over the chest area.
Chest pain anxiety symptoms can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel chest pain once in a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel chest pain all the time.
Chest pain anxiety symptoms may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.
Chest pain anxiety symptoms can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur out of the blue and for no apparent reason.
Chest pain anxiety symptoms can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where its strong one moment and eases off the next.
Chest pain anxiety symptoms can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.
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