Anxiety Chest Pain: Is It A Heart Attack?
While anxiety is often associated with its mental symptoms, the physical symptoms can cause the most distress to the person suffering from it. One of the most alarming symptoms of anxiety is chest pain, and it makes sense, since chest pain is closely related and associated to serious heart ailments.
Yes, chest pain anxiety is a discomforting symptom, but while it is a common anxiety symptom, it should not be mistaken as a heart attack or a heart problem. But how do you know if you are just having anxiety and chest pains, or you are having a more serious health problem? And how can you calm yourself if and when you experience this kind of chest discomfort anxiety?
Chest Pain From Anxiety, A Closer Look
Chest pain can be caused by panic attacks and anxiety, resulting from hyperventilation. It can also be indicative of lung problems and heart problems, and other factors. And it is also highly likely that those who experience chest pain from anxiety because of those illnesses can likewise experience anxiety due to the pain.
The traditional symptoms of anxiety are dizziness, sweating, nausea and rapid heartbeat, however, there are a lot of people who experience a unique set of anxiety symptoms such as the following:
- Weakness of the neck
- Tingling of the legs
- A feeling of loss of control
- Chest pain
Your experience and individual circumstances has a lot to do with the severity of your anxiety attack, the level of chest anxiety and how you react to the symptoms.
What Causes Anxiety and Chest Pain
To rule out other potential health issues, it is always best to visit your GP or specialist even just once. Anxiety is caused by many factors but chest discomfort anxiety is closely related to stress and in being stressed out unnecessarily because of pain. Visiting your doctor will give you peace of mind that the chest pain is not because of a heart ailment.
Those who are suffering from panic attacks and anxiety will more likely experience chest pain with anxiety because of a wide variety of factors, including:
- Bloating—anxiety generally causes bloating or excess gas, which can be exacerbated by hyperventilation disorder. Bloating can also increase the amount of pressure to the lungs, resulting to chest pain.
- Hyperventilation—those who experience anxiety and panic attacks are also prone to breathing in excess amounts of oxygen, or hyperventilation. This is usually because of excess air in the lungs and rapid muscle contractions. Hyperventilation may cause a significant amount of chest pain with anxiety as the blood vessels contract during an attack.
- Psychosomatic—many people do not believe that the problem is just in their heads. There are many cases wherein a patient actually feels severe pain even when there is no pain present, because of extreme anxiety. Their mind simply convinces their body that there is pain even when there’s none.
Because chest pain from anxiety often occurs during panic attacks and is worsened by other symptoms, it can be really frightening for many people, however, the chest pain experienced is often harmless.
How to Tell the Difference between Chest Pain from Anxiety and Cardiac Chest Pain
While a guaranteed method to determine whether a chest pain is caused by a heart problem or by anxiety does not yet exist, there are major differences that will help you know if you are indeed having a heart attack, or just an anxiety chest pain.
- The pain tends to be sharper and considerable.
- The pain is localized to a specific chest area, which may be closer to the middle of the chest.
Cardiac Chest Pain
- The pain tends to radiate from the jaw down to the shoulders.
- Cardiac chest pain is duller, and you will feel as if your heart is being crushed.
- The pain may last longer than 10 minutes.
It is important to note that there can be many similarities between anxiety chest pain and cardiac chest pain, such as the feeling that your heart is being crushed or squeeze, and you find it difficult to breathe.
Reducing Anxiety and Chest Pain
Nothing beats prevention in reducing the chest pain from anxiety that you feel, and you can do this by also reducing anxiety. The less anxious you are, the less will the risks be of you experiencing chest pain.
But what can you do when you do experience anxiety and chest pain? Here are some exercises you can do:
- Control your breathing—keep in mind that chest pain anxiety is commonly caused by hyperventilation, so controlling your breathing will greatly calm your nerves. Use deep breathing techniques or take deep and slow breaths for at least 15 seconds, and you will see that as you calm down, your chest pain will also lessen.
- Control your environment—chest pain caused by anxiety is made worse when you think about the experience. Find ways to distract yourself from the cause of your anxiety, and you will notice that the chest pain will fade. If you unexpectedly get caught in a situation or place where your anxiety is triggered, do your best to get out or bring yourself to another location where you can distract yourself away from anxious thoughts.
- Control your thoughts—going to a doctor and having yourself checked is important in eliminating anxiety-causing thoughts about the chest pain you are experiencing. By talking to your doctor, you will know that your heart is in good health, and your thoughts will not be muddled by the anxiety that you may have a more serious ailment.
Yes, it is true that anxiety can cause chest pain. Generally, the best way to prevent it is to reduce stress and place yourself in an environment where you can be relaxed and comfortable, while retaining a great amount on control of the things around you. Arming yourself with the right kind of knowledge also helps, as well as being in communication with your doctor.