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Can Anxiety Attacks Cause Chest Pain

Learn How To Address Your Symptoms

Can panic attacks really cause chest pain?

If you have anxiety and chest pain, medically-reviewed strategies like the ones above might help, but there is no better substitute for speaking with a licensed mental health professional. Working with a counselor will allow you to immediately get started on relieving your symptoms and reducing the frequency of any related pain, especially in the chest. Therapy has been shown to reduce certain symptoms of anxiety, especially those who struggle with GAD, panic disorder, phobias, and social anxiety disorder.

If you struggle with anxiety and stress, read reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing similar issues below.

Treatment Of Panic Disorder In Patients With Chest Pain

Panic disorder, as described above, can have profound effects on social, financial, and occupational function, as well as on elevated rates of cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, PD is highly treatable, as borne out by a number of trials using both pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic treatments. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , venlafaxine, and tricyclic antidepressants are among the antidepressants with proven efficacy in PD, with rates of response of approximately 50% to 70% over several months. Benzodiazepines, especially alprazolam and clonazepam, have also been proved effective in PD. Furthermore, cognitive-behavioral therapy , the best studied of the psychotherapies for PD, appears to be comparable to medication in the treatment of PD. Treatment of patients with PD can be individualized on the basis of a patient’s preference for medication or psychotherapy, prior history of response, presence of comorbidity, and severity of symptoms.

What Causes Chest Pain

It is always a good idea to visit a doctor at least once to rule out any potential heart health issues. Anxiety can cause chest pain, but an important factor in reducing the stress of that chest pain is by making sure you are confident that your heart is in good health. Visiting a doctor is never a bad thing!

Often those living with anxiety and panic attacks will experience chest pain caused by any number of different factors. Some of these include:

  • Hyperventilation – Those with panic attacks and anxiety are prone to hyperventilation, or breathing in too much oxygen. It is often due to rapid muscle contractions and excess air in the lungs. Hyperventilation contracts blood vessels and causes considerable chest pain.
  • Bloating – anxiety can be connected to excess gas or bloating. Hyperventilation disorder can contribute to this as well. Bloating can cause an increased amount of pressure on the lungs, which in turn leads to chest pain.
  • Psychosomatic – most people don’t like to believe the idea that the problem is in their head, but those with extreme anxiety and panic attacks, that are worried about their health, may feel genuine pain even though no cause of pain is present. Psychosomatic means that a physical ailment is aggravated or caused by their thoughts. The anxious mind actually convinces the body that there is a symptom, in this case chest pain.

Also Check: Where Does Social Anxiety Come From

Panic Disorder And Panic Attack Causes

If you are prone to experiencing negative emotions and are sensitive to anxiety you may be at risk for the onset of panic attacks and panic disorder. Childhood experience of sexual or physical abuse, smoking, and interpersonal stressors in the months before the first panic are also risk factors.

Furthermore, it is believed that genetics play a role in susceptibility to panic disorder, although the exact genes, gene products, or functions that are implicated are not known. Individuals with a parent or parents diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are also thought to be at a higher risk of developing panic disorder.

Chest Pains Anxiety Symptoms Common Descriptions

How To Get Rid Of Chest Pain Due To Anxiety?
  • 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.

Also Check: Can You Get Sick From Anxiety

What Is A Heart Attack

A heart attack is a medical emergency. A heart attack usually happens when a blood clot prevents blood flow to the heart. Tissue loses oxygen and dies when it is deprived of blood.

Your heart muscle requires oxygen to survive when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is drastically decreased or entirely cut off, the heart muscle dies, causing the heart and circulatory system to malfunction.

This usually occurs because the coronary arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle might get restricted due to a deposit of fat, cholesterol, and other substances known as plaque.

Quick Read Angina Or Anxiety

  • Many people go to the emergency room with chest pain that feels like a heart attack but is instead anxiety.
  • Its unlikely that a young person without risk factors is having a heart attack, but you should still go to the emergency room if you experience symptoms.

Picture this: Your heart is racing. It feels like its not just beating in your chest but in your throat and neck. Its beating so hard that its impossible to think of anything else.

You feel short of breath, but short of breath doesnt quite describe it. Its more like youre smothering or choking. And when you think about it, swallowing is difficult, too.

On top of this, you are sweating and shaking uncontrollably. And you are dizzy to the point of needing to throw up.

Your chest gets tighter and tighter. You feel a sense of impending doom. Youre worried that you may be having a heart attack. What else could it be?

Also Check: How To Overcome Food Anxiety

Getting Care For Anxiety Or Palpitations

Nearly everyone experiences anxiety and a racing heart on occasion its part of being human. But dont ignore frequent anxiety or palpitations. Your doctor can help you discover the causes and provide treatment if needed.

Most of the time, palpitations are just a sign that your heart is temporarily working a little harder. But sometimes, palpitations can be a sign of a heart condition like an arrhythmia.

If youre having palpitations, mention it to your doctor, says Dr. Bibawy. A cardiologist can find out whats causing the palpitations or rule out health conditions. And if your palpitations ever cause dizziness or fainting, see a doctor right away.

Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain Every Day

Can stress or anxiety cause chest pain?

The answer is unfortunately yes.

Its hard to believe that intense fear can cause such physical pain, sometimes constant pain, but until you relieve your extreme stress levels it may keep causing pain in your chest.

However:

In this case, you must get checked by your doctor to rule out any heart problem or other conditions that cause daily chest pain.

Read Also: Is It Okay To Take Anxiety Medication

Functional Morbidity With Chest Pain And Normal Coronary Arteries

A number of researchers have also examined functional disability and persistence of symptoms in patients with chest pain and normal coronary arteries, of whom approximately 40% have PD. Ockene and coworkers followed 37 patients with chest pain and normal coronary arteries for 6 to 37 months. At follow-up, 70% of such patients had continued chest pain, 51% reported being unable to work due to their symptoms, and 47% had their usual daily activities limited by chest pain despite normal angiograms. Similarly, Lavey and Winkle followed 45 patients with chest pain and normal coronary arteries for a mean of 3.5 years after their normal angiogram. Fully 82% of the patients continued to see physicians for cardiac complaints, and, of the patients whose activities had been limited by symptoms, 79% continued to have functional limitations to the same or greater degree. Finally, a larger study following 1977 chest pain patients without significant coronary artery disease for a mean of 6 years found that 70% of such patients continued to have chest pain over this period, and fully half reported being unable to exert themselves as a result of their symptoms.

How Anxiety Causes Chest Pain

When youre anxious, your brain sends a surge of adrenaline and cortisol through your body. These hormones immediately trigger a rapid rise in your heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, many people experience chest pain and sweating, or have a hard time breathing.

The sudden boost of adrenaline can narrow the arteries in your heart and attach to cells inside the heart. This condition, called stress cardiomyopathy, mimics a heart attack, from symptoms all the way down to changes in your hearts electrical activity.

Though stress cardiomyopathy usually heals within a few days or weeks, it may lead to weak heart muscles, congestive heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Levels of adrenaline and cortisol dont return to normal in people with anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Chronically high hormone levels may trigger a panic attack and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Recommended Reading: Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure

Ways To Reduce Chest Pressure

When you are experiencing chest pressure and/or tightness, the key is to try to figure out the potential causes. Once you deem anxiety to be the cause of the symptom, the next goal is to stop it. See the following examples:

  • Hyperventilation: Try to get your breathing under control by taking slower, deeper breaths and not trying to over-breathe or breathe too fast. When youre experiencing hyperventilation, you may feel as though youre not getting enough air, but hyperventilation occurs when you have expelled more CO2 than you make. So breathing more slowly helps to rebuild those CO2 levels.
  • Bloating/Heartburn: If you can potentially reduce/prevent any gas, do so. You may also want to consider taking an antacid or drinking water, which may help with bloating or heartburn. Heartburn can be improved by eating more slowly, decreasing the amounts of spicy foods you consume, and staying upright for at least 30 minutes after eating. Also, avoid heartburn-inducing foods like peppermint, chocolate, coffee or caffeinated beverages, tomatoes, alcohol, and citrus fruits
  • Muscle Strain: Be mindful of lifting or carrying items that are too heavy. Make sure to stretch and warm up your muscles before doing any strenuous activities.

These are only temporary fixes. Remember that your chest pressure and/or tightness is often related to some type of anxiety issue or anxiety disorder. That means that the only way to prevent the chest pressure from returning is to learn to manage your anxiety.

Take Stock Of The Situation

Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain ? Chest Pain or Heart Attack ...

Accept your feelings of anxiety, recognize them, and then work through putting them in perspective.

Are you worried about something you cant control? Are you fearful of an outcome thats unlikely? Are you dreading a situation you cant control the outcome of? Talk your way through your feelings to find the source, and then work to put them into perspective.

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What Should You Do If You Experience Anxiety Chest Pain

Always seek medical care to get your chest pain checked out. Symptoms of anxiety/panic attacks and heart attacks overlap a bit. Its best to have yourself evaluated in the emergency room under the guidance of an experienced healthcare professional.

If you are diagnosed with anxiety chest pain or non-cardiac chest pain, seek professional healthcare to manage your anxiety. Treatments can include cognitive behavioral therapy to manage your anxiety and, if needed, medications .

Here are some steps to manage an anxiety attack or panic attack, even with chest pain :

  • Breathe deeply, slowly, and steadily.
  • Count to 10 and keep repeating until the feeling passes.
  • Monitor your chest painanxiety chest pain doesnt last long compared to a heart attack .
  • Focus on a calming favorite image while counting.

Those are useful, though temporary, fixes. While you may not reduce anxiety completely, lifestyle changes can help you reduce the severity of your physical symptoms of anxiety. Try these strategies to manage your anxiety :

  • Eat rightIncrease your vegetables and decrease your sugar intake.
  • ExerciseAim for at least 150 minutes a week. Bodily movement helps reduce anxiety.
  • Get enough sleepMost people need at least 7 hours.
  • Avoid alcohol or tobacco.
  • Some people are sensitive to its effects.

What Is A Panic Attack

Panic attacks can be caused by heredity, chemical imbalances, stress and the use of stimulants .

Some people have only one or two attacks and are never bothered again. Panic attacks can occur with other psychiatric disorders. In panic disorders, however, the panic attacks return repeatedly and the person develops an intense fear of having another attack. Without help, this “fear of fear” can make people avoid certain situations and can interfere with their lives even when they are not having a panic attack. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the problem and get help.

Tips for dealing with a panic attack

  • Realize that although your symptoms are frightening, they are an exaggeration of normal stress reactions and aren’t dangerous or harmful.
  • Face the feelings rather than fighting them, and they will become less intense.
  • Don’t add to the panic by asking “What if?” Tell yourself “So what!”
  • Stay in the present. Notice what is actually happening rather than what you think might happen.
  • Rate your fear level on a scale of 1 to 10 and watch it change. Notice that it doesn’t stay at a high level for more than a few seconds.
  • Distract yourself with a simple task like counting backwards or lightly snapping a rubber band around your wrist.
  • When the fear comes, expect it and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away.

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