If you're one of the 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety disorders, you've probably experienced both mental and physical symptoms-especially if you've had a panic attack or anxiety attack. Anxiety's physical symptoms can be painful, annoying, and even frightening.
Some anxiety sufferers regularly experience pain in and around the chest, often during anxiety or panic attacks.
Understandably, discomfort in the chest may make you feel uneasy since it's home to organs like the lungs and heart. Sadly, this can lead to even greater anxiety. Instead, we created this guide to help calm your nerves.
Learn why anxiety chest pain occurs, what it feels like, how long it lasts, and how to stop it in this article. Additionally, you'll learn the difference between anxiety-related chest pain and heart attack-related chest pain and when to seek medical attention.
Yes, of course. As a result of anxiety or panic attacks, many people also experience chest pain.
There's a reason for this uncomfortable symptom: Your brain and body are trying to protect you from an actual or perceived stressor.
Different people experience anxiety and chest pain differently. Chest symptoms include:
These uncomfortable feelings can come on gradually or suddenly. In most cases, chest pain occurs during panic or anxiety attacks that come on quickly, and the sufferer already feels anxious before the chest pain begins.
In addition to mental turmoil, anxiety and panic attacks can cause several physical symptoms.
During anxiety, your body enters what's commonly called a "fight or flight" state, preparing to help you battle (or flee) something that could harm you.
It does this by increasing your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure and releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline. Chest pain can result from many of these "fight or flight" responses. Chest pain can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:
It can feel alarming, but anxiety and chest pain is temporary. The pain usually lasts around 10 minutes, but other symptoms (such as dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea) may last longer.
As soon as possible, call your doctor, visit an urgent care centre, or schedule a telehealth appointment if your symptoms continue, worsen, or are just concerning.
The intense muscle contractions during a panic or anxiety attack may also result in soreness in the chest area for a few hours afterwards.
Stopping anxiety chest pain requires going straight to the source: your anxiety.
The good news is that you can implement simple techniques and lifestyle changes to help manage your anxiety and panic, many of which are free and easy.
Diaphragmatic breathing reduces anxiety by slowing the heart and breathing rates and can even stop a panic attack. A simple but effective breathing exercise is to put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
Allow your belly to push out the hand on your stomach as you take a slow, deep breath through your nose. It would help if you did not move the hand on your chest. As you exhale, allow the hand on your belly to move inwards again, pushing all the air out—ten times in a row.
Journaling, counting, and visualizing can be practical tools for calming the brain and reducing anxiety. Meditation has been used for thousands of years, and even a few minutes can help reduce stress and restore inner peace. There are many websites (including YouTube) that offer free guided meditations.
Regular exercise is a great way to combat generalized anxiety, and getting up and active is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety. Exercise can also reduce muscle tension, increase serotonin and other anti-anxiety neurochemicals, and distract you from racing thoughts.
Studies show that drinking alcohol and caffeine, as well as smoking cigarettes, can worsen anxiety.
Take note of what you have consumed before you feel anxious to try and pinpoint which may be negatively impacting you, and limit your consumption accordingly.
You may not think about sleep during an anxiety or panic attack, but getting enough sleep is essential to manage your anxiety. There is a link between sleep deficiency and anxiety, depression, and other illnesses. Adults should sleep seven to nine hours a night for healthy functioning and wellness.
We associate anxiety and chest pain with heart attacks, which is why it is so alarming. About 735,000 Americans have heart attacks yearly, and chest pain is a common symptom. 80% of people who go to the emergency room with chest pain don't have a heart attack, and 58% suffer from moderate to severe anxiety.
There are several differences between heart attack chest pain and anxiety chest pain that can help you distinguish between the two. Anxiety chest pain, for example, may feel differently from person to person, but it tends to affect only the chest.
A person experiencing heart attack chest pain describes it as a squeezing, heavy, and aching pain that radiates outward from the chest to the arms, shoulders, and jaw (also known as angina).
Pain starts at different times and lasts for different amounts of time.
As previously mentioned, anxiety chest pain usually begins when the body rests and lasts approximately 10 minutes (though this can vary). In contrast, heart attack chest pain usually begins slowly and gradually becomes more intense when the body is active.
Heart attack chest pain also worsens with exertion and lasts longer than anxiety-related chest pain. Interestingly, 30% of people who suffer a heart attack do not report experiencing chest pain. Heart attack symptoms may also include nausea, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, back pain, and exhaustion.
Seek medical attention immediately if you think you are experiencing a heart attack.
Anxiety shouldn't be a part of your life. Mobi Doctor offers high-quality, affordable, and confidential mental health care. Taking our free assessment, you can find out if you have anxiety and what treatments might work for you.
Chest pain shouldn't be ignored even if you suffer from anxiety. Seek medical advice if you are experiencing persistent chest pain to rule out a heart problem, such as coronary artery disease.
It may just be anxiety-related chest pain, but it's better to be sure. Heart conditions and anxiety-related chest pain can both be treated with proper healthcare.
A therapist and doctor can prescribe medication or therapy (such as cognitive behavioural therapy) if anxiety affects your quality of life. Symptoms, including chest pain, can be alleviated by this medical care.
Mobi Doctor offers online urgent care.