As we all know, feeling anxious or nervous under certain situations and circumstances is perfectly normal. They are natural reactions to atypical situations.
However, some people experience anxiety on a more frequent basis, and their symptoms can move from feelings of worry to several other physical reactions. Sometimes, these symptoms are mistaken to be associated with other conditions.
Anxiety chest pain as a symptom of anxiety is probably the best example of this. It is often caused by an anxiety or panic attack and can be a concern for many as there might be a connection to heart conditions, especially heart attacks.
In case you are one of those who experience frequent anxiety, you should take the initiative to understand your chest pain, as this can help you find relief from the symptom. It can also be helpful for you in identifying whether or not you need additional medical support.
WHAT DOES ANXIETY CHEST PAIN FEEL LIKE?
Symptoms of anxiety are rarely the same, and it varies from person to person. There are days when the symptoms of anxiety are not even the same for the same person. Stress and anxiety show up in various ways, which makes identifying and understanding the symptoms more difficult.
Anxiety chest pain also varies for each individual. Some people experience chest pain (due to anxiety) slowly and gradually. While some experience it suddenly and unexpectedly.
Here is how anxiety chest pain feeling is described as:
- Persistent aching in the chest.
- Sharp and shooting pain.
- Unusual spasm in your chest.
- Tightness in the chest.
- Stabbing sensation.
You should not be alarmed if you do not have a history of chest pain due to anxiety. But, there are many people who go to the hospital thinking that they are having a heart attack.
A large number of people who do come to the hospital with low-risk chest pain experience some degree of anxiety, whether it is moderate or severe.
(TIP: if you visit the hospital and the doctors do not find a definite cause for your chest pain, then make sure to consult with your doctor regarding other probable causes, which might include anxiety.)
CAUSES OF ANXIETY CHEST PAIN
Many people still ask the question – “Can anxiety cause chest pain?” the answer to this is YES; anxiety and panic attacks can cause chest pains.
Chest pains due to anxiety, also referred to as anxiety chest pain, might result from mechanisms that are not directly related to your cardiac system, or from ones that are related, or a combination of both.
Given below are some mechanisms that are not related to your cardiac system yet still cause chest pain:
Fast breathing might result in the drop of carbon dioxide levels in your blood. This can lead to a tingling sensation in the extremities and also a feeling of light-headedness.
This is a condition that can be attributed to irregular contractions in the oesophagus.
Severe anxiety attacks can also lead to physical reactions in the cardiac system that might cause chest pain. They include the following:
- Increased blood pressure.
- Coronary artery spasms.
- Increase in the resistance of small blood vessels in the heart.
- Increase in the demand for oxygen in the heart.
- Increased heart rate.
(NOTE: People suffering from anxiety may have cardiac issues and heart disease as well. And panic or anxiety attacks only make things worse.)
TREATMENTS FOR ANXIETY CHEST PAIN
Anxiety chest pain treatment mainly deals with treating anxiety. The best thing to do is seeking the help of mental health professional. It can have a positive impact on life because anxiety, when left untreated, can limit the quality of life.
But medications and especially CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, have already shown their effectiveness in treating anxiety and panic disorders.
In CBT, a person is taught to change their thought pattern. It also teaches how to identify and avoid probable anxiety triggers. This form of therapy has proven to help individuals reduce or manage their anxiety symptoms without the use of medicines.
SIMPLE TECHNIQUES THAT CAN HELP MANAGE YOUR ANXIETY
There are some techniques that you can try out if you feel anxious. However, remember that these techniques might not work every single time. Nevertheless, you can use them as a starting point for managing your stress and anxiety.
DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES
When you take focused and deep breaths, it calms both your mind and body. So, whenever you feel anxious, go to a quiet area and inhale for a count of 10. Hold your breath, and then release for a count of 10. Keep on doing it until your heart rate becomes normal and you feel relaxed.
REVIEW THE SITUATION
Accept and recognize your feelings of anxiety, and try your best to put them into perspective.
Do you feel worried about something that is beyond your control? Are you anxious about an unlikely outcome? Are you anxious about a situation, the outcome of which you cannot control? Talk yourself through whatever it is that you are feeling and find the source. After that, move ahead of putting things into perspective.
Although this might sound strange, counting to 10 or 20 and repeating the process can actually help you to calm down and focus when you are going through a panic attack.
THINK OF A BEAUTIFUL SCENE
Whenever you feel stressed out, try to think of a place that calms you down instantly. This technique can be useful when you feel anxious under circumstances that you cannot afford to avoid, like during a meeting. Also, breathe deeply when you are visualizing the location.
DOWNLOAD A RELAXATION APP
Relaxation apps are all the rage nowadays. These apps offer instructions regarding stress reduction techniques and exercises. Meditation apps are also extremely popular, and they can help you calm your nerves when you are anxious.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
This includes sticking to a healthy diet, getting sufficient sleep, exercising daily, etc. Remember, when you take care of your body, you are also taking care of your mind. And while taking care of your body might not help get rid of anxiety chest pain, it will surely help in reducing the risk of developing severe anxiety symptoms and chest pains as a result of it in the future.
Identifying and understanding anxiety chest pain is probably the most important step in treating the condition. Once you learn the techniques of managing the side effects of anxiety, you will also learn to manage unintentional complications and symptoms of anxiety which includes chest pain.
You can never know if or when you are going to have anxiety chest pain. That is why you should take steps to equip yourself with coping techniques so that you feel confident and in control.