Anxiety. We’ve all experienced some form of it at one point in our lives. Does anxiety cause chest pain? When anxiety hits, it can leave you shaken to your very core. Everybody experiences different symptoms, many people experience chest pain. With nearly 40 million adults affected by anxiety in the United States alone, it’s little wonder that this disorder is the most common form of mental illness.
That’s more than 18% of our population. Let that sink in.
Fortunately, anxiety disorders are very much treatable with the proper care. Sadly, however, roughly 65% of those who suffer from anxiety neglect to seek treatment. That’s a staggering amount that we hope to see reduced.
Typical Anxiety Chest Pain Symptoms
When an anxiety attack hits, there are a number of symptoms that can accompany it. Some people experience a heightened sense of worry, while others suffer from chest pain.
Although the symptoms associated with chest pain differ from person to person, enough have been recorded to give you a baseline for what to expect. And while the following symptoms may come on gradually for you, they can also hit suddenly and without warning.
- Dull aching, burning, or numbness
- Tightness or tension in your chest
- Spasms or twitches in your chest
- Sharp and sudden shooting pain
- Your chest persistently aches
- Sharp, stabbing pressure
Does Anxiety Cause Chest Pain?
Any time you experience chest pain, it should give you pause for concern. Chest pain is very disconcerting and needs to be addressed right away. Does anxiety cause chest pain that feels like a heart attack? The short answer is, “Yes.”
Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders report chest pain that is akin to a heart attack. Moreover, 60 to 90% of patients visiting an emergency room for chest pain have no underlying heart trouble.
Anxiety Chest Pain vs. Heart Attack Chest Pain
- With the typical symptoms of anxiety-driven chest pain in mind, let’s look at the symptoms of a heart attack to see how they compare.
- Radiating chest pain that affects other parts of your body, such as your arms or jaw
- Severe pressure in your chest that feels like someone is sitting on it
- Physical activity makes your chest pain worse
- A tight, squeezing sensation in your chest
- Chest pain accompanied by nausea
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate
It’s interesting to note that some 30% of patients who have a heart attack report not having any chest pain. And yet others note feeling fatigued or having back pain during their heart attacks. Therefore, not everyone experiences the same symptoms during a heart attack.
As such, it is important that you seek medical attention to ensure that there isn’t a more severe culprit at play. A qualified physician can help rule out or confirm whether you have indeed had a heart attack.
It is medically understood that there is a link between chest pain and anxiety. With that said, you should never assume that your chest pain is driven by anxiety. It’s always better to err on the side of caution any time chest pain is of concern.
How Can I Safely Rule Out a Heart Attack?
Heart trouble usually causes you pain and discomfort near the upper left side of your chest. But to ensure that your chest pain symptoms aren’t associated with your heart, your doctor will have to perform some tests.
Both an ECG (electrocardiogram) and a simple blood test can determine whether your chest pain stems from your heart. If you have had a heart attack, you will likely have a blockage in one of your arteries that supplies blood to your heart.
As such, you will need urgent specialized treatment to restore your blood supply. In doing so, you can effectively reduce permanent damage to your heart.
Moreover, your doctor will need to quickly determine whether you’ve had a heart attack and if it is the cause of your chest pain. Ruling out a heart attack early on can help you avoid unnecessary visits to the hospital, as well as additional tests and treatments.
An ECG is designed to measure the electrical activity in your heart, while a blood test detects troponin protein, which is released into the bloodstream by damaged heart muscle whenever a heart attack takes place.
Thanks to these tests, your doctor can see within a reasonable range whether you’ve indeed experienced a heart attack.
Anxiety Chest Pain vs. COVID-19 Chest Pain
Ever since COVID-19 invaded our lives, chest pain has been of great concern. But does anxiety cause chest pain similar to COVID-19? Although rare, it is one of the possible underlying symptoms associated with coronavirus.
As such, it’s important that you see a doctor to help determine whether your symptoms are heart-related or from COVID-19.
One of the most notable signs that you’re dealing with coronavirus is that you’ll have a respiratory infection. If you are coughing up phlegm, you must seek medical care to rule the possibility of COVID-19.
In addition, coronavirus typically has the following symptoms:
- Sudden loss of taste or smell
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
How Can I Safely Rule Out COVID-19?
The only way to be certain that you don’t have COVID-19 is to see a physician. The best option to date for testing for COVID-19 is a deep nasal swab. Other tests that have been administered have been shown to produce false positives, such as throat swabs or saliva testing.
While false positives exist in deep nasal swabs, the likelihood is far lower. If you believe you have COVID-19, it is advised that you quarantine for 14 days until all symptoms have subsided.
Does Having Chest Pain from Anxiety Mean I Have an Anxiety Disorder?
As you’ll learn, there are many types of anxiety disorders that can bring about chest pain. Let’s discuss the most common and analyze some of their symptoms. If you’re at all concerned about what you’re experiencing, it is strongly advised that you seek medical attention.
With the proper care, you stand a better chance of controlling your condition and the symptoms that come with it.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic anxiety. As such, the patient experiences heightened worry and tension even though there is little or nothing to worry about.
As such, chest pain may be a side effect that comes naturally, especially if the anxiety attack is incredibly severe.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes the patient to experience recurring, often unwanted, thoughts, known as obsessions. This can result in repetitive behaviors, known as compulsions.
Some examples of repetitive behavior might include hand washing, counting, checking and rechecking repeatedly, or cleaning. Moreover, the patient often performs these ritual-like actions with the hope of making obsessive thoughts go away.
However, only temporary relief is provided as a result. If the patient does not continue performing the obsessive-compulsive actions, it can significantly increase their anxiety.
Depending on how intense the anxiety gets after not completing OCD actions, the patient may suffer from chest pain if the attack is bad enough.
Characterized by unexpected and often repeated occurrences of extreme fear, panic disorders can bring on intense physical symptoms, as well. The patient might experience heart palpitations, dizziness, abdominal distress, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Since chest pain is a common symptom of panic disorders, it’s important to seek medical diagnoses to rule out the possibility of a heart attack.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can develop after a patient has been exposed to a particularly terrifying event or situation, which can include serious bodily harm or the threat of harm. Some common traumatic events that can lead to PTSD include military combat, forceful personal assaults, and accidents. Chest pain is a physical symptom that some people with PTSD can experience.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Sometimes called Social Phobia, Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive self-consciousness and overwhelming feelings of anxiety in everyday social settings.
In some instances, Social Anxiety Disorder is limited to a singular type of situation, such as experiencing fear when speaking in front of others, eating in front of others, or just being around other people.
Since overwhelming feelings of anxiety often produce physical symptoms, chest pain can be included among the symptoms.
What Causes Chest Pain from Anxiety?
When you become anxious, it often causes your body to develop physical reactions that are out of your control, such as shortness of breath and sweating. These are known as stress responses, where your brain tells your body how to react in stressful situations.
Physiological changes can accompany such stress responses, including tension in your body or a tightening in your chest. Not only that, but emotional and psychological responses may be present, as well.
In instances such as these, you might become overly aggressive or easier to get upset over matters. When these reactions occur, they are known as “fight or flight” responses. As such, your body prepares itself to fight back or run from the problem.
Those who only occasionally experience fight or flight responses can often recover from the accompanying symptoms in less than 30 minutes. However, those who experience fight or flight responses frequently will have a harder time naturally recovering.
When this happens, and you’re struggling to right yourself, you may experience chest pain, increased tension in your muscles, and rapid heartbeat. When combined, these symptoms can cause intense feelings of discomfort.
Home Remedies to Stop and/or Prevent Anxiety:
Whenever you have an anxiety attack or just feel anxious about something, you can perform some simple techniques in the privacy and comfort of your home. While these techniques aren’t guaranteed to work every time, they’re an excellent place to start in learning how to manage your anxiety.
Practice Deep Breathing
Taking deep and focused breaths can help to calm your body and your mind. When practicing this technique, you may get the best results when you go to a quiet, isolated area. Once there, take a deep breath and count to 10.
Then, hold it for a second. Finally, exhale for 10 seconds. You may need to repeat this technique a few times until you feel your heart rate lower.
Take Control of Your Situation
A simple yet effective strategy for some people is to first accept their anxious feelings. Once you recognize that you’re experiencing anxiety, it will be easier for you to work through your feelings and put them in perspective.
Many people worry about things that are out of their control. Moreover, they produce unwarranted worry over things that are very unlikely to occur. It’s best to consider your feelings and openly talk about them.
You don’t necessarily have to speak with others. Rather, work through whatever it is you’re experiencing by talking to yourself about them. This will make it much easier to put your worries and fears into perspective so that you can overcome them.
Picture Calm, Breathtaking Scenery
Feelings of anxiety can sometimes be overcome by visualizing a place of serenity. Some people who suffer from anxiety use this technique to get through situations they can’t control. For example, you might have to attend a stressful meeting or interview.
Try going to that calm place in your mind while taking deep breaths as outlined above. You might be surprised by the results.
Try a Relaxation App
You can download many apps to your smartphone that are designed to help you overcome anxiety. Thanks to these specialized apps, you can learn what steps to take to reduce your stress, whether it is through techniques or exercises.
You might also want to try a meditation app, as some patients enjoy the benefits that come from quieting the mind. Even better, a lot of these apps are free. As such, you can try out several until you find the one that complements you the best.
Take Care of Your Body
It pays to keep your body in good physical condition. This includes following a healthy diet and ensuring that you’re getting ample sleep each night. When you take care of your body, it can help improve your mind, as well.
Although it’s not a fix for treating anxiety-driven chest pain, optimal physical conditioning can reduce the risk of experiencing an anxiety attack, thus minimizing any subsequent chest pain.
It’s been shown that people who regularly exercise are less likely to feel depressed, so there are certainly benefits in staying fit that go far beyond just being in good shape.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Getting Chest Pain from Anxiety:
So, does anxiety cause chest pain? As you’ve just learned, yes, it can. At this point, you’re probably wondering what you can do to reduce getting anxiety-based chest pain in the future.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do that have been shown to do just that. Let’s talk about some of the most popular methods for minimizing anxiety and look at how they help.
As we just discussed, exercise can go a long way in improving your state of mind, as well as your physical health. If you’re less likely to feel down, then you’ll be less likely to feel anxious. And if you’re less likely to feel anxious, you’ll be less likely to feel chest pain.
Since that’s the main goal of this guide, we want to help ensure that you are better prepared to manage your anxiety. You don’t have to take on a full exercise regimen all at once. Start out slow and work your way up.
As you are doing this, it will become easier for you to keep your body fit and keep up with the demands of your routine. Not only that, but you’ll also be improving your mind in the process.
Improve Sleep Habits
This is another big one that many people fail to implement. Poor sleep can dramatically increase your stress levels and make it harder for you to cope with life’s anxieties.
As such, you must learn how to discipline yourself to go to bed at a reasonable time so that your body and mind can get the rest that they so desperately need. In doing so, you’ll be more likely to feel both energized and focused.
Avoid or Limit Refined Sugar
Most people know that sugar can cause physical health problems. However, sugar is also known to affect mental health. Many people turn to sugar as a pick-me-up to get through the day.
However, the problem is that studies have shown that sugar can actually increase the likelihood of developing a mood disorder in both men and women. As such, it is recommended that you try to eliminate refined sugar from your diet in favor of healthier alternatives.
Supplements for Alleviating Symptoms
Multivitamins and mineral supplements have been shown to benefits people who suffer from anxiety. In fact, a study from 2019 revealed that supplements containing vitamin C, calcium, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium significantly reduced anxiety in young adults.
Moreover, a report from a 2018 study showed that multivitamins might benefit people with anxiety. With this data coming to the forefront, an effective method for improving anxiety symptoms might be to try a combination of multivitamins and supplements.
Of course, you should always speak with your doctor first to help you determine the best dosage of these supplements.
Best Vitamins for Anxiety & Chest Pain
There are several vitamins that have been shown to help regulate anxiety symptoms, including:
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Pyridoxine HCl (Vitamin B6)
- Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Methyl Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
- Vitamin D
Vitamin B complex can help lower stress levels, as well as manage depression and anxiety. Magnesium is believed to play a critical role in managing anxiety. And vitamin D is essential in regulating mood and can help improve brain and nerve health.
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Chest Pain With Anxiety?
A lack of vitamin B12 can result in a variety of harmful symptoms, including shortness of breath, anxiety, panic, depression, and even hallucinations, among others.
Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiencies can lead to both chest pain and anxiety, further solidifying that those who suffer from these conditions should start a regimen of vitamins and supplements to help manage symptoms.
When to See a Doctor
If your anxiety or chest pain symptoms become chronic or severe, you should consult with a doctor or therapist. They can help you work through the driving factors causing you to experience these symptoms.
There are many coping techniques that you can learn to better manage what you’re feeling. But if you’re not used to anxiety and are unfamiliar with the symptoms, it can be challenging to utilize these techniques. That’s where a qualified specialist can help.
Chest Pain from Anxiety Every Day?
If you are experiencing chest pain for days, it is likely caused by muscle contractions that can occur alongside an anxiety attack.
What Should I Expect From the Doctor?
The goal is to teach you how to feel safe and in control. As such, your doctor may show you coping techniques designed to help you attain a sense of calm. In doing so, your anxiety and chest pain is likely to subside.
When to Go to the Emergency Room
The very first time you experience a panic attack or anxiety, it is recommended that you go to the emergency room. This is necessary in order to rule out a potential heart attack, thyroid or hormone problem, asthma, or other medical concerns.
What Should I Expect At the Emergency Room?
When visiting the emergency room for an anxiety disorder, the doctor may order a chest X-ray, EKG, and blood tests to ensure your health and safety. What’s more, you may be prescribed medications to help control your symptoms.
Remember, a therapist can provide essential guidance and direction for managing your anxiety. With practice, you can learn effective techniques to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
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