Chest pain and anxiety: Is this a cause for worry?
Can anxiety cause chest pain? You're not alone. Millions of people suffer from this problem, chest pain, and other mental health issues every year.
Anxiety can cause chest pain when you are very anxious. You may also experience chest pain when you have anxiety because of the increased heart rate, blood pressure, and other physical changes that occur during an anxiety attack or period of high anxiety. (Trusted sources 1*, 2*, 3*)
For those who have anxiety, it doesn't just go away; you need to take the time to work through your feelings and learn how to manage them before they get out of hand. Luckily, many things can help you overcome this sense of apprehension - some are more traditional than others - but either way, they'll make a world of difference in your life!
What is anxiety?
Anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States, with over 40 million adults affected. It's when your body and mind react to something that is usually not dangerous or threatening by creating severe anxiety symptoms, including:
- Increased heart rate.
- Rapid breathing.
- Trembling hands.
- Chest pain.
Anxiety physical symptoms
The most common physical symptoms of anxiety disorder are chest pain, rapid breathing, and trembling hands. This sense of apprehension is a natural response to threats, but when it reaches extreme levels, the body can’t keep up with the stresses of everyday life, and your health pays for it in more ways than one.
Symptoms may be made worse by caffeine or nicotine use, which increases adrenaline release to feel less anxious at first. However, these substances don’t treat any underlying anxiety and make you more susceptible to addiction.
Anxiety in pregnancy
This sense of apprehension in pregnancy occurs when stress symptoms start showing up for the first time during pregnancy and may sign an anxiety disorder or panic attacks.
The problem of anxiety in pregnancy often results from:
- Fear about giving birth.
- Changes to one’s sense of identity as a mother.
- Concerns about caregiving responsibilities after delivery.
- Difficulties with sleep due to hormonal shifts can cause insomnia.
When an expectant mother experiences significant anxiety during her pregnancy, the baby may be born with lower birth weight and/or an increased risk of premature delivery.
This disorder in pregnancy also may interfere with the mother’s ability to breastfeed successfully, which can cause anxiety in her infant at feeding time.
There are many treatment options available for anxiety during pregnancy, including:
- Counseling or therapy sessions with mental health, also called psychiatric, professionals.
- Self-help books or websites on anxiety management techniques.
- Medications including antidepressants and benzodiazepines that are safe for use during pregnancy.
- Exercise can help manage anxiety symptoms in pregnant women and after delivery by decreasing stress hormones and increasing positive mood chemicals, which may affect a woman's sense of self.
How do I know I am suffering from anxiety?
You can tell that you are suffering from anxiety when you experience:
- A racing heartbeat.
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly, feeling restless and irritable.
- Worrying excessively about some event coming up in the future (particularly if this is not typical for you).
- Constant anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as chest pain, trouble breathing, sweating, and when anxiety is prolonged, it can lead to panic attacks.
- A feeling of dread or panic
- Irritability and anxiety
- Restlessness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia (difficulty sleeping), irritable bowel syndrome.
Everyday anxiety is often a result of feelings of apprehension, fear, or worry that have become excessive and out of control.
For some people, these symptoms may be mild, while for others, they can become overwhelming. If you're experiencing any physical side effects, it would be best to see a doctor or therapist and discuss the anxiety.
How to overcome anxiety
Stop and take a deep breath.
Taking a deep breath can help you calm down and get your sense of apprehension under control.
Breathe in deeply through the nose for five seconds, hold it for one second, then exhale slowly through the mouth over five seconds. Do this four to six times or until you feel better.
This calming technique provides long-term relief from anxiety symptoms by reducing amygdala hyperactivity (the amygdala is part of the brain related to fear response).
One way would be a regular exercise that has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and panic attacks, and depression due to improved moods. This can also help release endorphins - chemicals in our body that make us happy and improve sleep quality too!
Listen to music with soothing melodies.
Listening to music with soothing melodies can help to improve mood, reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. This can be especially helpful for those who experience social anxiety or have panic attacks when they are in crowds of people because music can help create a sense of safety by distracting the environment.
Smelling pleasant aromas such as lavender oil may also offer relief from mental health symptoms due to its calming effect on the amygdala. It is also believed that it could stimulate serotonin production (a neurotransmitter related to happiness).
Developing mindfulness exercises such as meditation has been shown to change brain activity which decreased emotional reactivity, increased cognitive control, improved attentional capacity, and reduced cortisol levels - all important factors in dealing with stress.
If nothing is causing your anxiety, then try meditation techniques such as yoga or breathing exercises to bring yourself back down to earth with thoughts of peace in mind instead of panic and fear. Yoga has been shown time after time to benefit both mental and physical health, which makes it an excellent tool for helping manage anxiety symptoms when used regularly.
Find out what's making you anxious.
It could be something small like not finding your keys, or it could be larger such as money troubles, relationship problems, work issues, etc. Still, the key is identifying where the anxiety stems from so that you can address the issue head-on.
Eating healthy food is a natural way to overcome anxiety. When you're feeling anxious, it's common to turn to comfort foods. But this might make your anxiety worse because these types of food are high in sugar and fat, which can lead to weight gain, which is a stressor for many people on its own.
It would be best to stop smoking or drinking alcohol and coffee because they can cause anxiety.
Focus on the present
Instead of letting anxiety control you, take back control by focusing only on what needs doing at that moment. This will help keep stressful thoughts from taking over and create space between them, so they have less power over you and don't overwhelm you as much with their negativity.
Do not take work or problems to your home.
You don't have to take your problems to your home if you want to get rid of anxiety because it can be tempting to do so. This is because this disorder usually stems from work or problems, and these are often the triggers that set off our anxiety.
Ask for help
Talk about it with friends who understand what you're going through and ask for help. They may be able to help you find a solution or provide support in the meantime.
If you want to get rid of this disorder, talk about your feelings on social media or other forms of communication like text messages with people who have been in your shoes before and know how hard it is and support you throughout this journey towards wellness.
Avoid your negative thoughts
If you avoid negative thoughts and focus on positive ones instead, you'll find that sense of apprehension will decrease. For example, if you're feeling anxious and worried about the future or your work performance for the day ahead of time. Try to remember a happy moment from earlier in the week to distract yourself from those worries until they pass over time.
Take a break
Taking a break is the first thing to do to get rid of anxiety effectively because it will help you disconnect from the stress and the sense of apprehension of your day. The break can be as long or short as you need it to be, but try not to exceed 45 minutes in length for an effective mental reset.
We hope you’ve found these 12 expert tips to help overcome anxiety useful. If you have any other strategies that work for you, we want to hear them!
Share your own ideas in the comments below and don’t forget to share this blog post with a friend who might need it.
There is nothing more powerful than encouragement from another person who has been there before and knows what it feels like. You are not alone!