Anxiety is characterized by excessive worrying and symptoms like nervousness, increased heart rate, sweating and trembling, and breathlessness. You may also experience chest pain or tightness. If you have anxiety and have been experiencing chest tightness, you may be wondering whether it is due to the condition or other illnesses like a heart attack.
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Read on to understand more about anxiety chest tightness so you can manage it appropriately.
Anxiety and Chest Tightness
Can anxiety cause chest tightness? The answer is “Yes!”. However, every person experiences the pain differently, making it difficult to understand the symptoms. Chest pain due to anxiety can feel like tightness in the chest, burning or a numb ache, or persistent aching. Some people describe the pain as a sudden muscle spasm, stabbing pressure, or shooting pain.
So why does anxiety cause chest tightness? Usually, a tight chest occurs as your body’s response to stress, tightening your muscles in readiness for a fight or flight reaction. The flight or fight response is your body’s way of trying to protect you from danger or threat. An increased heart rate may also accelerate the pain.
If you experience chest tightness, you may worry about a heart attack, causing more panic. The more anxiety you feel, the tighter your chest feels. If you experience frequent attacks, your muscles take more time to recover from the tension, leading to chest pain.
Conditions that Can Cause a Tight Chest
While anxiety may cause chest tightness, other medical conditions may be responsible for the tightness.
Below are some of the conditions that can cause a tight chest:
A heart attack is a medical emergency with similar symptoms as an anxiety attack. You may experience chest pain resulting from exertion, feelings of impending doom, breathlessness, a squeezing sensation in your chest, and nausea. Although most of the symptoms are similar to those of anxiety, the manifestation of chest pain differs.
Anxiety Chest Pain Vs. Heart Attack Chest Pain
Chest tightness from a heart attack usually radiates to other parts of the body, including the arms and the jaw, while anxiety pain centers in the chest. Also, an anxiety chest pain occurs after a fear trigger, while that of a heart attack comes from physical exertion.
The pain from a heart attack feels like pressure, stabbing pain, or an achy sensation that feels like heartburn. Although chest pain from anxiety goes away shortly, a heart-attack chest pain peaks fast and lingers for longer.
While Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a digestive condition, it can cause chest pain. It occurs when acid from the stomach goes back to the esophagus. Other GERD symptoms include pain when swallowing, excess saliva, and sore throat. If you suffer from GERD, you experience the above symptoms frequently, such as at least twice a week.
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Pneumonia is the inflammation of the air sacs in your lungs. Depending on the severity of your infection, you may experience chest pain, fever and chills, cough, low body temperature, nausea and diarrhea, and shortness of breath. Complications from the condition are common, making it necessary to seek medical attention if you exhibit the symptoms.
It is the most common cause of chest pain and occurs from straining the muscles that connect your ribs, known as intercostal muscles. You can get muscle strain engaging intensive activity like heavy lifting. Besides chest pain, you may experience swelling, tenderness, and breathing difficulties.
The condition occurs due to blockage of a pulmonary artery, usually caused by a blood clot. Common symptoms of pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. Although the condition can be fatal, you can boost your survival chances with early detection and treatment.
Other conditions that may cause chest pain include asthma, rib cage injury, lung collapse, angina, and pericarditis. Given the numerous conditions that exhibit similar chest pain as anxiety, you should never ignore chest tightness. Contact your doctor to ascertain the cause of your pain and get the treatment you deserve.
Home Remedies for Tight Chest Due to Anxiety
Since you can experience anxiety suddenly, it is crucial to have handy tips that can help you manage the condition at home.
Here are three home remedies for a tight chest due to anxiety:
1. Breathe Deeply
Taking deep breaths can calm your mind and lower your anxiety levels. Breathe deep and slow when you experience chest tightness to help you control your breathing and relax. It is advisable to take up to nine counts of slow inhalation and exhalation.
2. Take Care of Your Health
The best way to deal with chest tightness due to anxiety is to be proactive about your health. Adopt a healthy lifestyle by incorporating exercise and a healthy balanced diet into your daily routine. Also, cut off excess caffeine, alcohol, and smoking that may adversely affect your mental health by aggravating anxiety.
3. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques such as meditation and focusing your mind on beautiful things can help you become more optimistic and calm. You can also listen to your favorite audiobook when anxious to help you relax.
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While the above techniques can help you deal with anxiety and the resulting chest pain, seeing a doctor is the best way to find a long-lasting solution. Your doctor will recommend reliable options for treating a tight chest. You also get access to professional advice on coping techniques for when you have an anxiety attack.
If you suffer from anxiety, Mango Clinic can help you improve your wellbeing. We offer personalized treatment options for anxiety disorders to help you improve the quality of your life.