What Does Chest Pain From Anxiety Feel Like
Picturethis: although you have been suffering from anxiety for a while, youverecently experienced something scary that youve never felt before.
Its notunusual for you to have symptoms like stomach upset when you feel anxious orstressed, but this feeling is different.
Itsnight time, and as you lie on your bed, you reflect on some of the problems youare currently facing.
All of a sudden, you start feeling overwhelmed. Theanxiety is building and you dont know what to do.
Within moments you startfeeling a strange sensation, you start experiencing a sharp stabbing and tearingpain in your chest whenever you inhale.
Youvenever experienced this before so you immediately get worried that youreexperiencing a heart attack or something like that.
To add to your anxiety, you startthinking about the fact that you live alone and dont know how you are going toget out of this situation if it gets worse.
Themore you get anxious, the worse the pain gets, becoming uncontrollable and causingyou to press your chest around where it hurts.
Thatswhat it feels like to have chest pain from anxiety. Someone who frequentlysuffered with chest pain and anxiety once described it as an unwaveringpsychosomatic pain that prevents you from functioning normally.
I Have A Tight Chest And Anxiety
Chesttightness is a common symptom of anxiety and panic attacks, often due to theway you breathe both before and during a panic attack. Experiencing chesttightness can often lead to further anxiety because as we just mentioned, it results in symptoms that may mimic a heart attack.
Sometimeschest tightness occurs on its own and other times it may follow episodes ofanxiety, high stress or fear. Aside from medical reasons, chest tightness canbe caused by an active stress response, the flight or fight response.
Whenyou are anxious, your body may undergo changes in order to protect itself fromperceived danger. The more anxious you are, the tighter your muscles get. Ifyour chest tightness is linked to anxiety, then your pain will subside as yourbody recovers from being in a high-stress response.
What Helps Chest Pain From Anxiety
Whenyou experience chest pain and anxiety, you want it to end as soon as possible.
There are a variety of solutions such as medication and cognitive behaviouraltherapy which have proven to be effective at treating anxiety attacks inmany cases. Many people have also benefited from anxiety coping techniques suchas deep breathing and physical exercises.
Rather than solely relying on coping techniques, however, you want to be able to stopanxiety and panic attacks as well as the fear of them occuring in the future.
Moreover,we dont want to forget the flip side of this issue. While anxiety can causechest pains, having to deal with constant chest pains can also cause extremeanxiety. Its a vicious cycle.
If youve been experiencing chest pains andanxiety please remember that youre not alone and you can overcome your anxiety asmany others have done.
You can download our free guide on 3 Ways to StopAnxiety and Panic Attacks which will show you how to end your anxiety and fear ofanxiety attacks, so you can enjoy a better quality of life.
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Treating A Tight Chest
Your doctor will conduct tests to determine the cause of your chest tightness. If the tests for a heart attack come back negative, your symptoms may be caused by anxiety.
You should discuss your symptoms with your doctor to determine when to seek immediate medical attention if you experience chest tightness again. It may be possible to link your chest tightness to other symptoms thatll help you identify anxiety versus a cardiac event.
Whatis Anxiety Chest Pain
Chestpain is a common symptom of anxiety and panic attacks. Research shows that12-16% of people experience this symptom and that most people who have chestpain report at least 2 episodes lasting under 4 hours.
Notall incidents of chest pain are signs of a heart attack. Sometimes theuncomfortable and painful symptom arises from anxiety.
Anxietypresents itself in a variety of symptoms, which differ from person to person. Chestpain associated with anxiety also feels different for each person. Chest paincaused by anxiety can occur suddenly, even if a person is inactive. Some peoplemay also experience chest pain on a gradual basis.
Thefollowing are typical feelings associated with chest pain and anxiety:
- Sharp,stabbing pain
- Anunusual muscle twitch or spasm in your chest
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How To Manage Anxiety
Anxiety might not be comfortable, but it is a common and sometimes useful response.
While its impossible to avoid anxiety completely , you can become more aware of how its affecting you in order to manage it when its overwhelming.
You might already have methods for relieving anxiety-induced chest pain in the moment. If youre looking for more ideas, you can try:
- engaging in slow, deep breathing by counting to 10
- taking a 5-minute break from anything thats currently causing anxiety, if possible
- getting up to walk around, stretch, or raise your arms above your head to give yourself more room to breathe
Therapy and medication can also be effective for managing anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Chest Pain Symptoms
Anxiety chest pain often starts suddenly with a stabbing pain in the chest area that might begin even if youre sitting quietly. It may also come on after youre already feeling other symptoms of anxiety. It usually starts and fades fast often within just about 10 minutes or so.
Other symptoms can include:
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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:4
- chest pain
- 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.5
How To Stop Chest Pain From Anxiety & Stress In 60 Seconds
Chest pain. Its so scary.
But its less scary if you know its caused by anxiety or a panic disorder.
When most of us suddenly feel our chest hurts, were certain that were dying.
That the chest tightness is a sign that youre going through a heart attack.
That your anxiety disorder is really killing you. Now.
But before you panic any further take a deep Breath.
Anxiety and chest pain are good friends.
Heres how to know if your chest pain is caused by anxiety, and how to stop it in less than a minute. O.k?
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What Is The Outlook For A Tight Chest
Chest tightness isnt a symptom to take lightly. If you experience chest tightness with other concerning symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Chest tightness could be a symptom of a serious health condition, like a heart attack.
If your chest tightness is the result of anxiety, you should discuss the symptoms with your doctor. Anxiety should be treated early to keep it from getting worse. Your doctor can help you implement a plan thatll reduce anxiety and chest tightness. This may include lifestyle adjustments that help you manage the anxiety from home.
Symptoms Of Anxiety Chest Pain
Anxiety is the feeling of worry, apprehension or fear that occurs in every person at some point in life. It often arises in response to stress and is a temporary feeling until the stress is removed or a person adapts to the stressful situation. In anxiety disorders, the feeling occurs frequently, often unrelated to any stressful event, for a period of 6 months or more. Depression is a common mood disorder that is also present in most cases. Anxiety may also be related to substance abuse.
Some of the symptoms associated with anxiety apart from chest pain includes :
- Shortness of breath.
- Abdominal discomfort ranging from a stomach ache to abdominal pain.
Any other strong emotion like anger or psychological stress may cause these symptoms even if a person is not anxious.
Read more on stress chest pain.
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Why Does My Chest Feel Tight And Heavy
Chest tightness is a common sensation. Its often described as a feeling of pressure or heaviness on the chest, discomfort in the chest or throat, a feeling of being short of breath or discomfort after eating.
Chest tightness is linked to a number of possible conditions. Many people worry theyre having a heart attack if their chest feels tight or heavy, but many relatively harmless conditions are more often the cause of this problem.
We look at some of the common causes of chest tightness, when you should see a doctor and how it can be treated.
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:
- Panic disorder
- 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.
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How Does Anxiety Cause Chest Pain
Anxiety is an emotional reaction that often causes your body to respond with the fight, flight, or freeze response. This response may also temporarily change how you breathe.
Most often, your fight, flight, or freeze response can lead to hyperventilation when youre breathing too quickly and this can increase chest pain.
As many as 1 in 10 people who seek medical care report hyperventilating.
Hyperventilating can cause chest pain because rapid breathing leads to lower carbon dioxide levels in your blood. When this happens, you may also feel lightheaded or tingling in your fingers and toes.
But while anxiety-induced chest pain can be uncomfortable, it isnt harmful or dangerous.
When It Is Panic Disorder: Treatment Options
When the cause of chest pain has been determined to be psychiatric rather than cardiac in nature, patients and their doctors can discuss treatment. It is important to know that panic attacks can occur with any type of anxiety disorder–there are 5 in all:8
A person must have recurring panic attacks and be fearful of having another to the point where it interferes with their everyday life in order to be diagnosed with panic disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 2% to 3% of US adults are diagnosed with panic disorder in a given year. Anxiety disorders affect women more than men.8
Dr. McCann says that it is possible for a person with no history of anxiety to develop panic disorder because of the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.
A person can develop panic disorder for the first time in the setting of COVID-19, she explains. However, there are specific criteria that must be met for it to be characterized as PD. In particular, symptoms need to be present for at least 1 month. People need to change their behaviors in maladaptive ways .
Both Dr. McCann and Dr. Bhatia emphasize that, even with a diagnosis of panic disorder, its possible for a patient to have cardiac or medical chest pain that should not be ignored.
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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.
Is It A Heart Attack Or Anxiety
It makes sense to respond to pain especially when you dont know its source with anxiety or worry. But if that pain is caused by anxiety in the first place, your natural response can spiral into an anxiety attack.
One reason you might respond to chest pain with anxiety is if you think, What if Im having a heart attack?
Knowing the difference between anxiety symptoms and heart attack symptoms can help you feel more at ease when having chest pain. And chances are, naming this pain could help you reduce it quickly.
When youre in the midst of a high-anxiety moment, your body is more likely to be experiencing:
- higher blood pressure
- more oxygen to the heart
- heart palpitations
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