Anxiety can take many forms, with anxiety chest pain being one of the most common symptoms. An anxiety attack is an unpleasant state of inner mayhem and stress that is often accompanied by panicky behavior. Often times, you feel like your heart is going to jump out of your chest, and chest pain is not far behind.
Chest pain anxiety can be quite frightening, as it can be easily confused with more worrying problems of the heart, further adding to your anxiety. Feelings of worry, fear, and nervousness all become heightened when we believe that severe problems with the heart could lead to our death. Thankfully, chest pain due to anxiety attacks is unrelated to the heart.
Anxiety is a response to the expectation of a future threat. This often leads the body to go through many symptoms that can lead to chest pain. These may include:
Hyperventilation: The process of inhaling too much oxygen and at an increased frequency can cause quick muscle contractions in the lungs. This also leads to a significant contraction of the blood vessel in the lungs, potentially leading to chest pain.
Bloating: Anxiety can lead to the formation of excess gas, with hyperventilation contributing to this problem. Bloating can cause increased pressure on the lungs and cause chest pain.
Psychosomatic pain: This is when a person experiences pain, but there is no tangible evidence or reason for pain to exist. It is due to the individual simply believing chest pain is there when there really isn’t. This can be a common feature in those who suffer from chronic anxiety attacks.
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.
|Chest pain brought on by exertion||✓|
|Chest pain while at rest||✓|
|Increased heart rate||✓||✓|
|Chest pain that accompanies anxiety||✓|
|Constant chest pain||✓|
|Sharp, stabbing chest pain that only lasts 5–10 seconds||✓|
|Shortness of breath||✓|
|Radiating pain that travels from your chest to other areas, like your arms or jaw||✓|
Chest pain that is a result from an anxiety attack can also present with additional symptoms. These may include:
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.”
Once you realize your chest pain doesn’t 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.
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.
Anxiety attacks are a very common occurrence in the general population, with chest pain being one of the most worrisome symptoms. If there is any doubt that your chest pain may be due to something more than anxiety, it is highly recommended to seek the counsel of a trained medical professional.