Chest pain is a scary symptom, and our first thought is often of something serious. If you’re worried that chest pain may be an indicator of an underlying medical condition, or is a sign of anxiety, you’re not alone. Finding the answer to this question is something many people struggle with, and it’s important to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible.
This article is your guide to understanding is chest pain a sign of anxiety and advice on what steps you can take. So let’s start this journey by diving into is chest pain a sign of anxiety!
Is Chest Pain A Sign Of Anxiety
Yes, chest pain can be a sign of anxiety. Chest pain associated with anxiety is often described as tightness, pressure, or squeezing in the chest area. It can range from mild to severe and may come and go over time. Anxiety-related chest pain is typically felt more along the sides of your chest than in the center.
It may also feel like an uncomfortable heaviness on your chest that increases with activity or stress levels.
Research studies have demonstrated a strong link between physical sensations, such as chest pain, and psychological states such as feelings of anxiety or panic. For example, one study found that people who experience frequent episodes of anxiety-related chest pain are five times more likely to be diagnosed with panic disorder compared to those who don’t experience chest pain.
A separate study found that participants with panic disorder experienced more severe chest pain than those without the disorder.
It is important to remember that chest pain can be caused by physical conditions as well, so it is important to get a proper medical evaluation if your symptoms last for an extended period of time or are accompanied by other worrying signs or symptoms. Your doctor will likely conduct tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or blood work to rule out any underlying physical conditions before making a diagnosis of anxiety-related chest pain.
How Do I Know If My Chest Pain Is Anxiety?
It can be tricky to know if your chest pain is due to anxiety or something else. One way to tell is by assessing the intensity and duration of the pain. Chest pain associated with anxiety tends to be tight, throbbing, and achy in nature and it may only last for a few minutes or even seconds.
It may also feel like pressure around the chest area, but it should never feel sharp or stabbing. If the chest pain persists for more than a few minutes or hours, then it’s more likely to be related to an underlying physical health condition and you should seek medical advice immediately.
Another way to tell the difference between anxiety-related chest pain and physical health issues is by observing other symptoms that accompany it.
Anxiety-related chest pain usually comes with feelings of unease, tension, or tightness in your upper body as well as racing thoughts and rapid breathing. If you’re having chest pain but don’t experience any of these other symptoms then it could be related to something else entirely.
Chest pain due to anxiety can vary in intensity and duration. Common symptoms associated with this kind of chest pain include:
- Pressure or tightness in the chest may come and go, usually lasting a few minutes.
- Pain radiating to other areas, such as the arms, neck, jaw, or back.
- A feeling of heaviness or numbness in the chest.
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) or palpitations.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Weakness or fatigue.
- Feeling lightheaded.
If you’ve experienced chest pain frequently over a prolonged period of time then it’s best to speak with your doctor who can rule out any underlying physical conditions that may be causing the discomfort. Regardless of what is causing your chest pains, managing your stress levels through things like exercise and mindfulness can help reduce its intensity and frequency
Chest Pain Caused By Anxiety Vs. Heart Attack
Chest pain caused by anxiety and chest pain caused by a heart attack can be frighteningly similar. It can be hard to tell the difference, but it’s important to know that there are some key differences you can look out for.
It is important to remember that chest pain can be caused by physical conditions as well. So it is important to get a proper medical evaluation if your symptoms last for an extended period of time or are accompanied by other worrying signs or symptoms.
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between chest pain caused by anxiety and a heart attack. Some common differences include:
- Chest pain related to anxiety tends to come on suddenly and may only last for a few minutes at most, while chest pain due to a heart attack typically lasts longer (at least 15-30 minutes) and often doesn’t stop with rest.
- Anxiety-related chest pains are usually described as tightness or pressure, while cardiac chest pains tend to be more severe and can feel like crushing or burning.
- Chest pains due to anxiety are often accompanied by other symptoms such as sweating, lightheadedness, and rapid breathing, while chest pain related to a heart attack is usually not accompanied by different symptoms.
- Anxiety-related chest pains usually come on suddenly and can be triggered by stress or intense emotions, while cardiac chest pain tends to come on gradually and typically doesn’t have any triggers that can be identified.
It’s important to note that even if you think your chest pain may be caused by anxiety, it is still best to seek medical advice in order to rule out any physical health issues that could be causing the discomfort. Your doctor will likely conduct tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or blood tests to look for any signs of a heart attack.
While chest pain caused by anxiety can be frightening, it is important to remember that it’s usually not a sign of a serious physical condition and can be managed with lifestyle changes and stress management techniques. It is also important to note that if you experience any other worrying symptoms along with your chest pains then you should seek medical advice immediately.
By taking the appropriate steps, you can ensure that your chest pain is nothing more than an uncomfortable symptom of anxiety. With proper treatment, you can get back to feeling like yourself in no time!
Causes Of Anxiety Chest Pains
Your heart is the most important organ, so it can be totally natural to worry about what’s going on when you feel pain in your chest area. While chest pain is often linked to serious medical conditions like a heart attack, it is also possible for chest pain to be caused by anxiety or stress. Below are some of the potential causes of anxiety chest pains.
Muscle Tension: One of the most common physical causes of chest pain with anxiety is muscle tension. When you are feeling anxious, your body may tense up and cause muscles in your chest, neck, and shoulders to become tight and sore. This can result in a dull ache in your chest that can be quite uncomfortable.
Gastrointestinal Issues: Another possible physical cause of chest pain with anxiety is gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux or an upset stomach which can lead to burning sensations or stabbing pains that may be felt in the upper left side of your body near your breastbone.
Panic Attacks: A panic attack is one of the most common psychological causes of anxiety-related chest pains. This strong surge of fear or discomfort can cause a person’s heart rate and blood pressure levels to skyrocket resulting in a sensation that feels like an elephant sitting on the chest. In addition, during a panic attack, it is not uncommon for someone to experience shortness of breath causing tightness and slight discomfort in the areas around their lungs and heart.
Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are another possible psychological cause for chest pains related to stress or worry. People suffering from GAD may experience chronic worrying which changes their physiological state leading them into experiencing all kinds of physical symptoms which could include tenderness or soreness in their chest area due to increased muscle tension caused by prolonged periods of stressing out about certain situations or events.
Hyperventilation: Anxiety attacks are often accompanied by rapid, shallow breathing, or hyperventilation. This type of breathing decreases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream and increases carbon dioxide levels, leading to chest discomfort.
Chest Muscles Tension: When experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety, our bodies respond by tightening the muscles in our chests in order to protect us from danger. This can cause persistent aches, pains, and even soreness as our muscles remain tight for long periods of time. In addition to physical discomfort, this tension can also make it difficult for us to breathe normally; leading to further distress.
Does Anxiety Cause Chest Pain Everyday
No, anxiety does not necessarily cause chest pain every day. While chest pain is a common symptom of anxiety disorders, it is not necessarily present all the time.
Anxiety can cause chest pain on a regular basis, but it is not an everyday occurrence. Anxiety chest pain often occurs in response to stressful events or situations, and it is typically short-lived, lasting between a few minutes and several hours.
So, while anxiety can certainly lead to frequent bouts of chest pain, it does not necessarily cause it every day.
It is important to note that if your chest pains are persistent or severe enough that you feel uncomfortable or experience difficulty breathing, tingling in your limbs, or any other concerning symptoms; then you should seek medical advice immediately. By taking the appropriate steps, you can ensure that your chest pain is nothing more than an uncomfortable symptom of anxiety.
That being said, if you are experiencing chest pains frequently or constantly then it would be wise to seek professional medical advice from your doctor as soon as possible so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be pursued.
How Long Does Anxiety Chest Pain Last
Anxiety chest pain typically lasts anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. It is important to note, however, that the duration of chest pain can be affected by various factors such as sleep deprivation, stress levels, and other medical conditions. If you are feeling anxious or stressed for long periods of time then it is likely that your chest pains will last longer as well.
It is also possible for anxiety-related chest pain to come and go throughout the day depending on your current mental state. For example, if you are in a particularly stressful situation then your chest may start to ache. But once you leave the situation or take steps to reduce your anxiety then the discomfort should subside shortly afterward.
Finally, if your chest pain does not go away after a few hours or if it gets worse then you should seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Persistent chest pain is usually a sign of a more serious underlying condition and should be addressed by a doctor immediately.
12 Ways To Manage Anxiety Chest Pain
Managing anxiety-related chest pains can be difficult, but there are several techniques that can help alleviate the symptoms. Here are 12 tips to help manage your chest pain and reduce your overall levels of anxiety:
- Exercise: Exercise is one of the best ways to manage anxiety chest pain. Regular aerobic exercise, such as running, jogging, or brisk walking helps to boost your mood and reduce stress levels. Additionally, it helps to release endorphins that can help to keep your body in a relaxed state.
- Relaxation Techniques: Learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and mindfulness can be helpful in managing anxiety chest pain. Taking a few moments each day to focus on these relaxation techniques can help you stay present at the moment and reduce stress levels.
- Get Enough Sleep: A lack of sleep can aggravate anxiety symptoms and exacerbate chest pain associated with anxiety attacks. Make sure you get enough restful sleep each night by reducing caffeine intake late in the day and finding a relaxing bedtime routine (such as taking a warm bath or listening to calming music).
- Talk Therapy: Talking with a therapist or counselor about your anxious thoughts and feelings can help you understand the source of your chest pains better and develop coping strategies for them. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective form of therapy that focuses on changing unhelpful thought patterns which underlie anxiety disorders.
- Cut Back on Stimulants: Caffeine, nicotine, and recreational drugs increase heart rate and blood pressure which could worsen chest pains associated with anxiety attacks. Try cutting back on stimulants or replacing them with healthier alternatives such as herbal tea and dark chocolate instead.
- Reduce Stress Levels: Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, journaling, and spending time outdoors can be effective ways to reduce stress levels which often contribute to anxiety-related chest pains. Additionally practicing gratitude or self-care activities such as bubble baths are great tools for managing stress levels throughout the day.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness exercises involve focusing all of your attention on the present moment without judgment or expectations of how things should be going for you right now – this practice helps to cultivate self-compassion which is essential for managing stress-related chest pains from anxiety attacks.
- Eat Healthy Foods: Eating processed foods high in sugar has been linked with increased inflammation in the body – reducing inflammation could be beneficial if it contributes to your chest pain from anxiety attack symptoms. Choose healthy snacks throughout the day such as nuts or fruits instead of junk food full of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
- Meditation: This practice involves focusing on the breathing, thoughts, and physical sensations of the body in order to become more aware and present at the moment, which can help calm the mind and reduce stress levels, thus reducing anxiety chest pains.
- Connect With Others: Having supportive people around us who we trust can help us feel less alone in our struggles with anxiety-related chest pains. Consider joining a support group online where you’ll have access to others who share similar experiences, or if possible reach out to family members who may be able to provide emotional support.
- Slow and Deep Breathing: Taking slow, deep breaths can help to reduce anxiety chest pains as it helps to promote a sense of calmness. Try inhaling slowly through your nose, counting to four before exhaling through your mouth. Repeat this cycle five times or more until you start to feel calmer.
- Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can create distance from them so that they don’t overwhelm you and cause anxious feelings. Focusing on writing down things that are positive or grateful for each day can help put anxious feelings into perspective and lead to an overall improvement in mood and reduction in anxiety chest pains.
When To See A Doctor
If your chest pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, sweating, numbness, and tingling in the extremities, then it’s important to seek medical attention right away. The cause of the chest pains could be something more serious than anxiety so it’s always better to get it checked out with a doctor before attempting to self-treat.
Additionally, if the above strategies are not helping you manage your chest pains from anxiety attacks, reach out for professional help from a mental health provider. They can provide additional support and assistance in managing your symptoms.
In conclusion, is chest pain a sign of anxiety? The answer is yes and no. People with severe anxiety may feel chest pain as a result of the condition however in most cases chest pain is caused by other medical conditions.
It is important for anyone experiencing chest pain to seek appropriate medical evaluation and diagnostic testing to determine the cause. As anxiety is one potential cause of chest pain it is definitely something that should be addressed if present.
Regardless of whether or not you think your chest pain is related to anxiety, seeking help from a healthcare professional is always recommended.
Hamel, S., Denis, I., Turcotte, S., Fleet, R., Archambault, P., Dionne, C. E., & Foldes-Busque, G. (2022). Anxiety disorders in patients with noncardiac chest pain: association with health-related quality of life and chest pain severity. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12955-021-01912-8
Huffman, J. C., Pollack, M. H., & Stern, T. A. (2002). Panic Disorder and Chest Pain. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v04n0203