Most people experience worry, fear, or nervousness on a regular basis. These are common reactions to unusual events in everyday life.
Some people suffer from anxiety on a regular basis. Symptoms can progress from feelings of concern or worry to physical reactions. These symptoms are sometimes mistakenly associated with other conditions.
As an example, chest pain can be a sign of anxiety. Chest pain is a concern because of the possible link to heart attacks and other heart conditions. It is often the result of a panic attack or heightened reaction.
If you have a lot of anxiety, learning to understand your chest pain can help you find symptom relief and recognise when you need more medical help.
Approximately 25% of individuals will experience chest pain at some point in their lives. Chest pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including a panic attack or an anxiety attack. (Source)
Furthermore, 2-3% of people in the United States develop a panic disorder every year. Panic disorder, which can result in panic attacks, affects women twice as often as men.
What causes anxiety-related chest pain?
When you’re stressed, your body can and often does react physically, such as sweating or a shortness of breath.
If you become anxious, your body and brain immediately initiate a stress response. A physiological change is included. Your body may tighten or become tense.
A psychological or emotional response can also be part of a stress response. You may become more irritable or aggressive. The fight-or-flight response refers to these responses. When you are stressed or anxious, your body ready to fight or flee.
If you only have this fight-or-flight stress reaction on occasion, your body should fully recover in 30 minutes. However, if you have it frequently, your body will not be able to recover as quickly. This can cause increased muscle tension, which can be painful in your chest.
Similarly, in a more stressful situation, your heart rate may increase and the force of your heartbeats may increase. This, combined with tight chest muscles, can cause unusual pain.
What anxiety chest pain feels like ?
Anxiety symptoms vary greatly from person to person. Some days, symptoms for the same person aren’t even the same. Anxiety manifests itself in a variety of ways, making it difficult to detect or comprehend symptoms.
Each person experiences anxiety-related chest pain differently. Some people may gradually experience chest pain. Others may experience pain that is sudden and unexpected. Anxiety chest pain is defined as:
- Sharp, piercing pain.
- A persistent ache in your chest an unusual muscle twitch or spasm in your chest burning,
- Numbness, or a dull ache stabbing pressure chest tension or tightness.
You should be concerned if you have no history of chest pain and anxiety. Many people believe they are having a heart attack and seek treatment at the hospital’s emergency department.
According to 2018 research, an estimated 25 to 50 percent of patients who present to the emergency room with low risk chest pain (chest pain unrelated to a cardiac event) experience moderate to severe anxiety.
If you go to the hospital emergency room and the doctors don’t find a specific cause for your chest pain, talk to your doctor about other possibilities, such as anxiety.
Anxiety-related chest pain vs. heart-attack-related chest pain
Chest pain is a dangerous symptom, and it’s normally best to seek emergency medical care if you have it. Even if the cause of your chest pain is anxiety, it’s better to know than to end up missing out on important time if you’re having a heart attack.
When someone is having a heart attack, they may describe their chest pain in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:
- Pain in your chest that spreads to other areas of your body, such as your arms or your jaw.
- Pain in the chest that exacerbates with exertion.
- Pausea as well as chest pain.
- Pressure in the chest, as if something heavy has been placed on your chest.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Breathing difficulty.
- A tightening excitement in the chest.
According to 2020 research, an estimated 30% of patients having a heart attack do not have chest pain. Back pain and fatigue are two symptoms that some people report as part of there own heart attack symptoms.
While doctors are aware of the link between anxiety and chest pain, you should not ignore your symptoms and instead seek medical attention.
If you are experiencing chest pain, contact your local emergency services. Try not to drive yourself to the hospital. Emergency personnel can assess you and determine whether you are having a cardiac event or if your chest pain is due to something else.
When to see a doctor ?
If your anxiety and chest pain are severe or chronic, you should see a therapist. They could really talk you through stressful situations and teach you coping techniques.
If you are frequently anxious, these methods may not feel natural to you. This is where a medical professional can assist.
A therapist or doctor may be able to provide you coping skills that will allow you to feel more in control and secure. Your signs, including chest pain, will fade as you regain your sense of calm.
If coaching or mental exercises aren’t working, you might want to consider a prescription. Anti-anxiety medications have risks and side effects. However, using them as a band-aid whilst still you learn how to deal with symptoms can be beneficial.
Anxiety chest pain treatment
Individuals who suffer from panic attacks and anxiety can benefit greatly from professional assistance.
These conditions, if left untreated, can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life.
In many cases, however, medications and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have proven to be effective in treating panic disorders.
CBT teaches people how to restructure their thoughts as well as recognise and avoid specific anxiety triggers. This type of therapy can help people reduce and manage their panic disorder symptoms without the use of medication.
There are also home remedies for managing and reducing anxiety symptoms, such as chest pain.
To help you cope with a panic attack, try the following techniques:
- Find safe shelter: If possible, find a safe and comfortable place to rest and try pulling over if going to drive.
- Take deep breaths: Consistent, deep breathing can help to reduce anxiety symptoms and prevent them from worsening.
- Remember that it is only temporary: If you are experiencing chest pain, keep in mind that these symptoms must only last a few minutes.
- Try to stay positive: During a panic attack, concentrating on peaceful or positive visuals may help people decrease the severity of their symptoms.
- Trying to count to 10 or 20 and then repeating can help people concentrate during a panic attack.
- Some people find that rating their general state of mind during a panic attack on a scale from one to 10, with 10 the most severe and 1 being a practically unnoticeable sensation, can assist them in controlling their anxiety.
A person can also reduce their risk of symptoms by making the following lifestyle changes:
- Regular physical activity
- Getting enough sleep, abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, and smoking
- Avoiding refined sugary foods
Anxiety and panic attacks can both cause chest pain. People who experience such attacks on a regular basis may have an anxiety disorder.
These conditions can be treated. It’s critical to seek medical advice in order to receive the most appropriate treatment.
As a precaution, anyone experiencing unexpected chest pain should seek immediate medical attention to rule out a heart attack.
Recognizing anxiety as the source of your chest pain is a critical step in treating your condition. You’ll learn to manage unintended complications like chest pain as you learn to manage the side effects of anxiety.
While you can’t predict whether or not you’ll experience anxiety chest pain again, arming yourself with coping strategies and practises will help you feel more prepared and in control.
Chest pain should not be overlooked. Seek medical attention if you have it to rule out a heart problem. If it is determined that your chest pain is caused by anxiety, you can work with a therapist or doctor to learn coping mechanisms or determine the best treatment for you.