Panic Disorder Whether Youve Lived With It For Years Or Have Developed It Due To The Pandemic Can Cause Chest Pain But Cardiac And Other Physiological Issues Need To Be Ruled Out Before Treatment Can Begin And Remember Any Kind Of Chest Pain Requires Medical Attention
Chest pain or tightness could be a symptom of the increased anxiety that is now prevalent in every facet of life as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop. Then again, it might not.
Chest pain also can be the result of a cardiac issue or due to a non-cardiac cause, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD¹, a muscle or skeletal problem in the chest,² or even a symptom of COVID-19.³
When associated with a panic attack, chest pain is a common symptom, but how do we know whats causing chest pain when we feel it? The only way to know for sure is by seeking medical attention.
How To Relieve Chest Tightness And Anxiety
But if youre certain your symptoms are from anxiety, the remedy can be deceptively simple. At the top of the list: Shifting your breathing from short, shallow breaths to longer, deeper ones, perhaps through mindfulness or meditation. That can help you get more oxygen which can calm your lungs and help your chest not feel as tight, says Dr. Gaynes.
If something specific is stressing you out, talk to yourself using some cognitive-behavioral techniques to relax. For instance, how likely is a doomsday scenario youre imagining likely to happen? Would it be the end of the world if it did? CBT can also help you unlearn anxiousness that has an outside trigger.
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.
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Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety You Didnt Know About
Anxiety and panic attacks are just as much physical states as they are mental ones…
- When we think of anxiety, we often think of a mental health condition that induces feelings of worry, concern, fear and nervousness. But, although we are absolutely correct to assume that anxiety starts in the brain, it is actually just as much a physical state as it is a mental one.
‘Anxiety is the feeling you have when you think that something unpleasant is going to happen in the future. Other words such as feeling “apprehensive”, “uncertain”, “nervous” and “on edge” also provide a good description of feelings linked to anxiety,’ explains Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK, in her guide Understanding Anxiety.
And, as life begins to return to normal, more and more people are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, as we wonder about what’s next. In fact, there’s a name for it, ‘post-lockdown anxiety’, as we ask, how will we adjust our routines again? What will our new normal look like? And how will our jobs, family life and relationships be affected?
So, it is useful to understand the broad array of physical symptoms that someone with an anxiety disorder, or panic disorder, can feel both during a panic attack and on a daily basis. Knowing that lots of physical sensations are caused by anxiety can reassure an anxious mind that they are not suffering from a more serious health condition.
Here, we look at the common physical symptoms of anxiety and provide a physiological explanation for each.
How Long Does Anxiety Chest Pain Last
Though it can feel alarming, anxiety chest pain is fleeting. Pain typically lasts around 10 minutes, though other anxiety or panic attack symptoms may last longer.
If your symptoms continue, are getting worse, or are just concerning, call your doctor, visit an urgent care center, or be evaluated through a telehealth appointment as soon as possible.
Some panic or anxiety attack sufferers may also feel soreness in the chest area for a few hours after the attack, due to the intense muscle contractions in the wall of the chest that took place during the attack.
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Diagnosing And Treating Anxiety
Its important to differentiate normal anxiety from the more severe type. Does the anxiety interfere with your family life or keep you from being productive in your professional life? Does it restrict you from engaging in the activities you like? If the answer is yes, then its the kind of anxiety that may require some degree of therapy or medical attention.
Depending on the duration, severity, and type of anxiety, treatment can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. A common and effective method of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves three main components:
When Anxiety Attacks The Body: Physical Symptoms
In some cases, heightened levels of anxiety can cause chest pain to develop. Anxiety is the bodys reaction to a perceived threat, explains Richa Bhatia, MD, FAPA, of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
When people are anxious, their blood supply to different parts of the body can be decreased because the body is in a fight-or-flight response and more blood is directed to the muscles, she says. Dr. Bhatia adds that people in a state of heightened anxiety often hyperventilate and breathe in a shallow manner, which can cause dizziness or chest tightness.
What a Panic Attack Feels Like
Experiencing chest pain because of anxiety can be one of the symptoms of a panic attack, which is defined as a feeling of sudden, intense fear and the severe onset of four or more of these symptoms:
numbness and tingling
fear of going crazy or of losing control.
A panic attack can happen when a person is feeling anxious, or it can occur out of the blue. The symptoms described above tend to last for roughly 10 minutes before fading. It is possible to have several panic attacks within a number of hours, which can feel like the attacks are coming in waves. Some people experience panic attacks daily or weekly. A milder variation of panic attacks, known as limited-symptom attacks, feature three or fewer of the symptoms listed above.
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How Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain
Both panic attacks and anxiety attacks can cause chest pain. These attacks are similar, although an anxiety attack can be less intense.
Anxiety attacks usually relate to a specific trigger in someones life, whereas a panic attack can happen without an obvious trigger.
In both cases, the symptoms occur due to stress hormones that trigger a persons fight-or-flight response. This also causes other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing.
People who have frequent anxiety or panic attacks may have an anxiety disorder. There are different types of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
To diagnose these conditions, a doctor needs to check that a persons symptoms match those outlined in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition.
Researchers do not know exactly what causes anxiety disorders, but it is likely a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors.
Chest pain due to anxiety or panic attacks can usually feel like a sharp, stabbing sensation that starts suddenly, even if a person is inactive. However, they may be feeling stressed or anxious already before the chest pain begins.
Common accompanying symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack include:
805,000 people in the U.S. every year, only 24% of individuals with chest pain who come in to see a doctor receive a heart problem diagnosis.
Nevertheless, having chest pain can be alarming, as it is still likely it could be due to a heart attack.
What Is The Outlook For People With Heart Palpitations And Anxiety
Many people have heart palpitations caused by situational anxiety. You can use relaxation strategies to successfully manage this anxiety. These strategies can slow down your heart rate in the moment.
If you have heart palpitations caused by chronic anxiety disorders, there is hope. You can also manage your anxiety with proper treatment. A good team of healthcare providers can help you build a coping strategy.
If you suspect another health condition is causing palpitations with or without anxiety talk to your provider about treatment. To relieve your symptoms, your provider will treat the cause. You may also benefit from anxiety-relieving therapies.
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What Does Chest Tightness Caused By Anxiety Feel Like
There are different ways to describe chest tightness that is caused by anxiety. For some people, it may simply feel as though they have pulled a muscle in their chest. For others, it may feel like:
A dull and constant ache
A sharp, cramping, shooting pain
A burning feeling deep in the chest
An uncontrollable muscle twitch
A numb sensation
Chest tightness is more likely to occur when anxiety or stress comes on suddenly rather than building gradually.
If you are experiencing any chest pain for the first time, you should immediately seek professional medical help to ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
What Does Anxiety Chest Pain Feel Like
One of the hardest parts about anxiety is that it often doesnt present the same way in any two people. What type and how severe your anxiety symptoms are can range from day to day.
Even the same physical symptom of chest pain from anxiety can differ from person to person. For most, the pain is sudden, harsh, and sharp but others may experience anxiety chest pain gradually.
Chest tightness anxiety symptoms can be described as any of the following:
- A persistent ache in the chest
- A shooting or sharp pain
- A burning, dull ache, or numbness in the chest area
- An abnormal muscle twitch or spasm
- Chest tightness or tension
- Stabbing pressure in the chest
For those with anxiety chest pain, people describe it as though there is a heavy weight on their chest, making them feel as though they are suffocating which can be absolutely terrifying.
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Take Stock Of The Situation
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.
Why Does Anxiety Lead To Chest Tightness
Several processes act together to create different symptoms of anxiety, including chest tightness . One involves hormones.
If you sense a threat or fear, that triggers a release of adrenaline hormone, explains Dr. Cazabon. Your heart rate goes up, blood pressure can go up. Your vascular vessels can tighten a little bit. The chest muscles can also tighten and can give you the feeling of something squeezing, he says. The stress hormone cortisol also plays a role.
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Why Anxiety Causes Chest Pain
There are many physical symptoms that a person can experience when they suffer from anxiety. One symptom that is common in people who suffer from more chronic and severe cases of anxiety is chest pains. Chest pains can create several different types of sensations in the chest, upper back, and sometimes the shoulders, like:
Chest pains caused by anxiety are often mistaken for symptoms of a heart attack, but they are not dangerous. They are simply a reaction to anxiety. Cases of anxiety that commonly create chest pains include:
- Severe cases of generalized anxiety
Chest pains caused by anxiety can occur on their own or without an apparent trigger. It is difficult to live with experiencing chest pains because they can disrupt the quality of a persons daily routine. The pain can sometimes become so severe that affected people end up visiting the emergency room because they believe they are experiencing a medical emergency. Though they are not dangerous, chest pains cause a great deal of anxiety and distress within a person, so it is important to understand what causes and alleviates them.
How Long Can An Anxiety Attack Last
The duration of an anxiety attack can change from one person to the next, and even the same person may never have the same feelings whenever they have panic attacks. But usually, when a person is having an anxiety attack, it will reach its peak within the first few seconds, and it will go on for a few minutes.
But it is also possible that an anxiety attack can last longer, and some people will say that they have episodes that can go as long as 30 minutes. Others have even described them going on for hours, or even days, although those are not as frequent.
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Heres How And When To Get Professional Help
Now for a bright side: Its totally possible to treat anxiety and panic attacks. Therapy is often a crucial part of treatment, especially methods like cognitive behavioral therapy, to help you retrain your brains anxious thoughts. Medications like antianxiety drugs may help too, as can lifestyle changes, including joining a support group or picking up some stress-management techniques. The best course of treatment is different for everyone and will depend on your specific symptoms. For many people, a blend of techniques will work best.
Speaking of professional help, you might find yourself wondering when to know its time to seek some for your physical symptoms of anxiety. Honestly, theres no clear-cut answer, but a good rule of thumb is if these symptoms are getting in the way of your life, you might want to consider seeing someone. Even if they dont feel super disruptive, it cant hurt to check with your doctor or make an appointment with a therapist. Because, hey, you could always feel better.
If youre feeling ready to take a step toward professional help, this guide to finding an affordable therapist is a solid place to start.
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Why Does Anxiety Give You Chest Pain
Anxiety is a stress response, and your body reacts to stress in different ways. Some sensations are purely physical, like having shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweating, or your body tensing up.
You may have heard of the fight-or-flight stress response where your body gears up to fight back or run away from the stressor. If you have a lot of stress in your life, your body carries a lot more muscle tension. Some people experience this muscle tension in their chests. If youre stressed out, this may raise your heart rate, and you can feel your heart pounding louder and stronger. These reactions together may make you experience anxiety chest pain .
Other responses that can cause anxiety chest pain include breathing too rapidly and shallowly .
Hyperventilating changes the level of carbon dioxide in the blood, causing dizziness, numbness and tingling in your extremities, and chest pain. Panic attacks can also increase the heart rate, which can cause coronary artery spasms, increased blood pressure , and increased oxygen needsall of which can cause chest pain .
People with coronary artery disease or other heart problems may also suffer from anxiety. An anxiety attack or panic attack can exacerbate their heart issues .
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What Anxiety Chest Pain Feels Like
Anxiety symptoms are rarely the same from person to person. Some days, symptoms arent even the same for the same person. Anxiety presents itself in a variety of ways, and that makes detecting or understanding symptoms difficult.
Chest pain associated with anxiety feels different for each person. Some people may experience chest pain on a gradual basis. For others, the pain may be sudden and unexpected. Anxiety chest pain can be described as:
- sharp, shooting pain
- an unusual muscle twitch or spasm in your chest
- burning, numbness, or a dull ache
- stabbing pressure
- chest tension or tightness
If you dont have a history of chest pain with anxiety, you may be alarmed. Many people assume theyre having a heart attack and go to the hospitals emergency department for treatment.
An estimated 25 to 50 percent of patients who come to the emergency department with low risk chest pain experience moderate to severe anxiety, according to 2018 research.
If you visit a hospital emergency room and the doctors dont find a specific cause for your chest pain, consider consulting with your doctor about other possible causes, including anxiety.
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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Why Do I Feel Anxious And Panicky
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. Everyone feels anxious at some point in their life, but for some people it can be an ongoing problem.
A little bit of anxiety can be helpful for example, feeling anxious before an exam might make you more alert and improve your performance. But too much anxiety could make you tired and unable to concentrate.