William Ralph is a mental health and wellness expert with several years of experience in mental health research and awareness programs.
According to studies, about 12–16% of people have felt Chest pain at some point in their life. However, chest pains are a cause of major concern because the chest holds some of the most important organs of the body given that your heart and lungs. This means that any chest pain might be a sign or indication of a serious problem, and it would be in your best interest to consult a doctor immediately or as soon as possible.
Chest pains or tightness could be caused by stress, anxiety, or more serious health problems, or the chest pain itself could cause you great stress, anxiety, or panic attack due to worry.
Can anxiety cause chest tightness?
People who experience panic and anxiety attacks frequently would feel chest pain during the panic attack. Panic attacks are moments of intense fear, which is followed by sweating, an increase in heart rate, fear of dying, dizziness, numbness, temperature instability, and nausea.
When a lot of people describe their experience during a panic or anxiety attack, they always mention that they felt chest pain or tightness in the chest which either triggered the other symptoms or worsened it because it caused them to worry and distress due to the fear that they might be having a heart attack.
Why does anxiety cause chest tightness?
The stress or fear brought on by the feeling of chest pain or tightens could cause you so much anxiety that your body triggers a flight or fight response which is the body’s protective response to danger, it does this by activating preparations in the body to either protect itself from the danger or fight the danger. The process of this fight-or-flight response includes the production of high levels of adrenaline, tensing the muscles, causing you feelings of tightness and stiffness in different parts of the body.
What does chest tightness caused by anxiety feel like?
The feeling of chest tightness brought on by anxiety has been described in several ways, for different people, the feeling is different or similar; it may feel like:
- A sharp, shooting pain
- A dull and constant ache
- A burning feeling deep in the chest
- A feeling of having pulled a muscle in your chest.
- A numb sensation
If you are experiencing any chest tightness or pain, you should immediately seek professional medical help for accurate diagnosis and treatment because it could be a sign of serious underlying health issues.
What can you do to relieve chest pain or tightness caused by stress or anxiety?
When the main cause of your chest pain or tightens is stress or anxiety, the best way to relieve this is by resolving the cause of the stress or anxiety. However, make sure you visit the doctor to get the proper diagnosis or cause of your chest tightness. There are several treatment techniques available to relieve chest pain, these techniques may not work for you or everyone in every situation, but it is important to be aware; they are good tools to have on hand to try at any given time.
1. Breathing exercises
When you are feeling anxious, it affects your breathing rate, you might be holding your breath and you wouldn’t even know it, and this could in turn put more stress and tension on your body and could also increase your heart rate, it is crucial that you learn calming breathing technique to help you keep yours through anxiety and stressful situations.
Calming breathing techniques involve breathing in deeply through your nose for 5 seconds and exhaling through your mouth for 5 seconds while letting the airflow deep in and out of your lungs.
You can set aside time during the day to carry out your breathing exercises.
If you also feel tightness or stiffness in other parts of your body like neck and back stiffness, you could incorporate some light stretch and rotating exercises into your breathing exercise to help loosen up your muscles and joints and bring mobility.
2. Limit alcohol and smoking
For a lot of people, alcohol and smoking is an aid for reducing anxiety and stress. While this might seems true, these actually worsen your health condition. The sense of relaxation you get from a nicotine hit is temporary. Research has shown that smoking increases stress and anxiety in the body.
The same goes for alcohol as well, lots of people drink alcohol to drown out their problems, change their mood, and feel relaxed, alcohol is actually a depressant that triggers chemical changes in the brain thereby increasing your feeling of anxiety and lowering your mood.
So you need to cut down on alcohol and smoking to reduce your anxiety and stress.
3. Talk therapy
Talk therapy treatment could be individual or group. You could talk to a therapist who would help you work through your anxiety and stressful life situations and then set up strategies to help you manage and cope with it. Or you could participate in group therapy aimed to help with general anxiety or panic disorders.
Most of the above techniques are to help reduce your anxiety and feeling of stress during chest pain and tightness, you should see a doctor as soon as possible who will examine you, and guide you through medically approved treatments for chest pain and anxiety. As there are so many possible reasons for chest pain or tightness, the treatment will be dependent on the cause and diagnosis of the medical professional.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 William Ralph