Do You Suffer From Anxiety-Induced Chest Pain?

July 15, 2019
Anxiety almost always manifests itself with physical symptoms. Different people experience different symptoms, but one of the most distressing ones is chest pain. Keep reading to learn more about this phenomenon and how to tell the difference between anxiety-induced chest pain and something more serious.

If you suffer from anxiety, you know that it can take a toll on your body. Anxiety can cause a variety of physical symptoms and everyone experiences anxiety differently. Maybe when you get anxious you feel like you can’t breathe or you feel nauseous or dizzy. Some symptoms go beyond simple physiological activation and can be quite scary. One of those is anxiety-induced chest pain.

While many anxiety symptoms aren’t that noticeable, anxiety-induced chest pain is one of the most worrisome for those who experience it. That’s because it feels almost exactly like the chest pain you might experience during a heart attack.

Your chest pain could indicate that you’re anxious or that you have an urgent health problem. That’s why it’s so important to figure out the cause of your chest pain.

When one or more coronary arteries are obstructed or ruptured, they stop providing blood (which carry oxygen and nutrients) to parts of your heart. Your body’s response to that situation is to send pain signals to your brain to let you know that something isn’t right.

A woman experiencing anxiety-induced chest pain.

Although the pain that you feel is coming from your heart, the painful sensation actually manifests somewhere else. In this case, your chest. That’s exactly the kind of pain most people associate exclusively with a heart attack.

Thus, it’s no surprise that if you feel a sharp pain in your mid-pectoral region, you assume you’re having some kind of heart problem. However, there are many other reasons why you might be experiencing chest pain, such as:

  • A cardiovascular event.
  • Trauma.
  • Osteoarticular problems
  • Muscular injuries.
  • Tumors.
  • Elevated and sustained cardiac output.
  • Anxious somatizations.

The last point on the list is the one we’re discussing in this article. Not only is it quite common, but it can be a sign that you’re experiencing extreme levels of stress.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Chest Pain?

There’s a phenomenon between the physical and the physiological called somatization. It has been the subject of extensive research by both psychologists and doctors. Basically, somatization is the bodily manifestation (in the form of pain, abnormal movements, health problems, skin conditions, etc.) of internal emotional states.

When you experience intense emotions, they tend to correlate to a feeling in the chest. That’s why when you’re really happy, you feel like your heart is “about to burst”. Likewise, something very unpleasant can cause an uncomfortable feeling in your chest.

As a result, the area of the body where anxiety often manifests itself is the chest. The sensation that people complain about most often is pain.

Although this somatization is fairly common and isn’t dangerous, it tends to indicate that the patient is suffering from extreme anxiety.

In general, anxiety-induced chest pain isn’t the result of a transitory or isolated anxious episode. On the contrary, it tends to be a response to intense and prolonged anxiety. That kind of chronic condition can have a lot of negative consequences for your health and well-being.

When people experience anxiety-induced chest pain, they tend to feel more anxious. This is a vicious cycle that feeds on itself and can make the situation even worse.

A woman with anxiety.

How to Tell the Difference between Anxiety-Induced Chest Pain and Something More Serious

If you have chest pain, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. You might be dealing with a serious health issue. However, try to remain calm. Getting upset about something that might not be a big deal won’t help you no matter what the problem is.

When your chest pain is a sign of a heart problem, you’ll tend to have other signs and symptoms. If the root cause is anxiety, chest pain might be your only symptom. Some of the other symptoms of heart problems are:

  • Your heart rate becomes irregular and weak.
  • You break out into a cold sweat or your blood pressure drops.
  • Feeling dizzy and weak.
  • Fainting.
  • The pain is harsh and stabbing. It feels like something is going through your chest from front to back or it shoots towards your left arm or neck.
  • It’s common to have digestive symptoms at the same time, such as stomach pain, indigestion, upset stomach, nausea, or even vomiting.
  • Your skin looks pale.
  • You calm down, but your pain doesn’t go away.

In conclusion, if you feel pain in your chest, the best thing to do is seek professional help to figure out the cause, especially if you have problems with anxiety. Even if it’s not the sign of a heart problem, you should take it seriously.

Also, you should try to find activities and habits that’ll help you reduce your anxiety and stress. Your body will thank you!