chest tightness anxiety

Chest Tightness Anxiety: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

chest tightness anxiety

For most individuals, feelings of worry, distress, and nervousness are considered normal. They are considered to be a natural reaction, particularly to uncertain situations. However, while those feelings only come about once in a while, many others often experience such feelings.

People affected by anxiety get misdiagnosed, and the condition is mistaken for other medical conditions like diabetes, heart attack, asthma, sleep apnea, overactive thyroids, or even COVID-19. This post is intended to help identify anxiety attacks, their causes, and how one can prevent or treat them.

Consult with our experts about deep breathing and other factors that can cause anxiety attacks- Click the button below.

So, let’s get into it and discover some insights into chest tightness anxiety.

1. Chest Pain and Anxiety- An Insight

This chapter is meant to provide more information on one fundamental question regarding chest pain and anxiety- What is anxiety-related chest pain? And also help explain varying aspects of anxiety.

Let’s begin!

What Is Anxiety- Related Chest Pain?

Chest pain is a symptom that is quite common in patients with anxiety. There are various reasons why anxious patients may experience chest pains. Some of these reasons could be because of issues related to cardiac or non-cardiac conditions.

You could use several ways to determine whether your chest pain comes about due to anxiety or other disorders.

What Are Some of the Causes of Chest Pain Due to Anxiety?

As we’ve discussed above, various factors contribute to chest pains as a result of anxiety. If your chest pains have a cardiac origin, it implies that you have a reduced blood supply to your heart muscles.

However, if your chest pains have a non-cardiac origin, then it’s more likely that the problem could be due to issues with your musculoskeletal systems.

     1. Non- Cardiac Reasons

Hyper-ventilation is a condition that is quite common during anxiety attacks. It causes your chest muscles to become tense, which could cause chest pain. Esophageal motility, a condition that causes difficulties in swallowing, food regurgitation, and painful spasms, is one of the leading causes of chest pain.

       2. Cardiac Reasons

Cardiac reasons that constitute chest pain include mechanisms that physically affect the heart and how it works. For instance, when hyperventilation episodes stimulate fear, a rapid contraction in the heart’s walls could result in a coronary artery spasm, which reduces blood supply to the heart.

This causes a deficiency in the amount of oxygen supplied to the heart’s muscles, resulting in chest pains. People with a history of chest pain due to any reason, including heart diseases, are more likely to experience chest pains due to fast heartbeats or high blood pressure during anxiety attacks.

causes of chest tightness anxiety

5 Causes of Chest Pain

       3. Small Vessel Ischemia

Anxiety could also cause small blood vessels to contract mainly due to over-excitation of the sympathetic nervous system, a condition that could also lead to severe chest pains.

One other important thing you have to note is that anxiety could also be caused by actual heart muscle ischemia. It could be caused when the body’s respiratory and cardiovascular systems’ functions are changed during anxiety attacks.

This could make it quite confusing for people to distinguish between anxiety-induced chest pains and actual heart attacks.

However, it’s good to keep in mind that heart attacks are severe medical emergencies and should be handled with the urgency they deserve. This is why it is essential to differentiate between anxiety-induced chest pains and a heart attack.

How to Differentiate Between Anxiety- Induced Chest Pain From a Heart Attack?

Differentiating these two types of chest pains is quite difficult; however, there are a few symptoms that could help you figure out whether the tightness in your chest is due to anxiety or heart attack.

  1. If you experience chest pains after exerting yourself, then the chances are that you are experiencing a heart attack; however, if you experience chest pains while relaxing, it’s more likely to be due to anxiety.
  2. People experiencing heart attacks tend to feel excruciating pain in their chest that increases to its maximum level; however, pain due to anxiety attacks tends to diminish if pressure is applied to the painful area.
  3. You could be experiencing an anxiety attack if you have a slight stabbing pain that’s localized to a small area of your chest.
  4. You could be getting a heart attack if your chest pain radiates from your shoulders, back, arms, neck, throat, or jaw.


SymptomHeart AttackAnxiety
Chest pain due to exertion 
Chest pain while you are at rest 
Increased heartbeat
Chest pain accompanying anxiety 
Continuous chest pain 
Sharp or stabbing pain in the chest lasting for about 5 to 10 seconds 
Shortness of breath 
Radiating pain traveling from the chest to arms, shoulders, throat, etc. 

That being said, cardiac reasons aren’t the only reasons that need to be evaluated. Several other reasons cause chest pain that ranges from ‘mild’ to ‘very serious.’

The following question may be quite relevant considering our current period.

Could Your Chest Pain Be Due to Covid-19?

While chest pains are among the many symptoms associated with Covid-19, it isn’t that common. Respiratory infections that cause phlegm and coughing could cause the affected individual to experience chest pains.

It’s good to note that this, as a symptom on its own, does not mean you are infected with Covid-19. Covid-19 has a mixture of lots of other symptoms that’ll need to be combined and assessed.

You can manage chest tightness anxiety through a combination of medication and talk therapy- Click below to get help.

If your cough isn’t accompanied by other signs and symptoms like phlegm, coughing, and upper respiratory tract infections, then it’s more likely to be anxiety and not Covid-19. Covid-19’s symptoms include many other symptoms apart from chest pain.

However, it would be good to know that all kinds of chest pain need medical care and before you assume anything on your own, it would probably be better to get in touch with the nearest doctor. A timely diagnosis is likely to save you lots of time and worry.

What Does an Anxiety Attack Feel Like?

If you want to know whether the chest pains you experience are due to anxiety attacks or not, then you’ll need to understand what anxiety attacks feel like and what their symptoms are.

The following symptoms explain what experiencing anxiety attacks feels like:

  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • A feeling of choking
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Tingling
  • Fear of going crazy or losing control

How Does It Feel to Have Anxiety Chest Pain?

Symptoms of anxiety differ from person to person, and sometimes they are completely different even for the same individual. This is the primary reason why most people find it hard to interpret these symptoms of anxiety, including chest pain, effectively.

Here are some of the symptoms that you may experience when your chest tightens due to anxiety:

  • A sharp and shooting pain in the chest
  • Constant aches in the chest
  • Unusual muscle twitches
  • Unusual spasms in the chest
  • Numbness or burning sensations
  • Stabbing pressure in the chest area
  • Tension or tightness in the chest region

What Causes Anxiety Chest Pain?

Sadness, anger, or fear cause physical and psychological reactions in your body. Some of the physical reactions include shortness of breath, sweating, and so much more.

Feeling sad, frightened, or afraid is stressful, and it elicits both psychological and emotional responses that make you upset, aggressive or both. This can be categorized as the fight or flight response. During this state, your body produces adrenaline, an extra surge of power that makes your heart beat faster to move more oxygen throughout the body.

Anxiety comes about when you try to fight the response, or you are lost in indecisiveness. The amount of energy produced keeps increasing until the point where you feel completely overwhelmed.

People experiencing the fight or flight response usually recover within 30 minutes. However, if the anxiety attacks are more frequent and occur within short periods, then the chances that one can make a full recovery are reduced.

The individual’s constant stress causes tension in their chest muscles and heart as it beats ever more strongly to supply enough oxygen throughout the body for the fight or flight response. The extra stress experienced by the heart muscles and the chest muscles tension is often the main cause of chest pain, with the primary reason being anxiety.

reasons of chest tightness anxiety

Chest Tightness Anxiety Symptoms


Other Reasons for Chest Tightness

There are lots more reasons for chest tightness. These reasons are most often confused with anxiety when people try to identify the reason for experiencing their chest tightness.

Here are some of the reasons:

  • Muscle strain
  • Ulcers
  • Asthma
  • Hypertension
  • Rib fracture

How to Get Rid of Chest Tightness?

Here are some of the steps you’ll need to take to get rid of chest tightness.

First, you’ll need to assess whether your chest tightness experience is due to other health conditions or anxiety. If you want to make a correct assessment, it would be best to visit your nearest physician for a proper and informed diagnosis.

If the diagnosis determines that the chest tightness experience is due to anxiety attacks, you are lucky. The pain you experience will subside right after your body recovers from the generated fight or flight stress response reaction.

However, if you frequently experience anxiety attacks or are suffering from an anxiety disorder, it would be best to learn a few skills to help you cope with stress.

Here are some of the coping skills that can help you cope with the stress:

It doesn’t matter what techniques you’ve adopted to deal with your anxiety. If you learn to decrease your anxiety levels regularly, then the chances are that you’ll learn to prevent anxiety episodes more effectively.

Doing this will help you eliminate severe chest tightness and many other symptoms you may have struggled with.

Now that you know about anxiety and chest tightness in detail, you must be wondering:

  • How can you prevent this from happening?
  • What treatment options are available?

Let’s move into the next chapter and find out.

2. Preventive Measures for Chest Pain Caused by Anxiety

Before diving into the treatment options, it is important to know what treatment measures you can use to manage anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms.

Learn how anxiety and panic disorders cause startling physical symptoms, including chest pain- Visit EZCare Clinic or schedule an appointment. 

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How to Prevent Chest Pain Caused by Anxiety Through Home Remedies?

There are some easy home remedies that you could use to help prevent anxiety and take control of your mind and body. It wouldn’t hurt to get a better understanding of how they could help.

Although these techniques do not work every time, they provide a great head start:

       1. Deep Breathing

Practicing deep breathing can be quite calming for both the mind and body. If you experience chest pains caused by anxiety, you need to find a quiet room. Inhale deeply while counting to 10, hold your breath for a second, and exhale slowly while counting down from 10. Repeat this until you feel your heartbeat slowing down.

       2. Accept Your Situation

For you to gain back control over a situation, first, you’ll need to accept it. If you experience chest pains due to anxiety attacks, you need to accept the situations and validate your feelings and emotions at that exact moment. After you do that, you’ll then work on making the condition better.

You could even talk to yourself if you have no one to hold your hand at that moment. However, keep in mind that you cannot solve all situations. Accepting this as one of the possibilities will help you deal with such situations better.

       3. Use an Anxiety App

There are lots of mobile apps that can help you deal with anxiety. Various apps have various anxiety-relieving techniques that you’re sure to find useful. The good thing regarding these applications is that most of them are free, and you have the option to switch between various apps until you find one that suits you the best.

Here are some of the apps that help most people deal with anxiety:

  1. Calm
  2. Breathwrk
  3. Moodnotes
  4. Colorfy
  5. Dare- Break Free from Anxiety
  6. Shine
  7. Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep

 4. Take Good Care of Your Body

Taking good care of your body significantly reduces your chances of developing anxiety or chest tightness anxiety. It would work great if you ate well, got enough sleep, went for walks, and were proactive with your health matters. Doing this balances your body’s chemicals and significantly reduces instances that may force you to resort to a fight or flight response.

Anxiety runs tension through the body and impacts different muscles- Click the button below to get help before it’s too late.

       5. Picture Beautiful Thoughts

Visualization is another great technique that could be used to calm down the mind by taking it to a safe place. You could do this by imagining a beautiful place, either real or made up, that’s calming and produces peaceful vibes. Doing this will make you feel relaxed, help you beat anxiety and reduce chest pain anxiety.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Chest Pain Caused by Anxiety:

Some simple lifestyle changes could help reduce chest pain and other symptoms associated with anxiety.

       1. Regular Exercise

Regular exercise reduces anxiety-related chest pain by triggering the body to produce feel-good hormones known as endorphins. Endorphins are mood regulators, and they are released when you exercise as a positive reward to make you exercise more. Exercising also helps eliminate toxic waste from your body which boosts your overall well-being.

       2. Have a Good Sleep Cycle

Sleeping is quite essential since it gives your brain enough time to heal and eliminate waste. Studies have found a relationship between the quality and quantity of sleep and anxiety. The less quality and quantity of sleep you get, the more anxious you are likely to be.

While a night of quality sleep can help reduce chest pain and other symptoms associated with anxiety, good sleep hygiene could gradually heal your anxious mind.

       3. Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Abuse

The chemicals found in alcohol, tobacco, and drugs alter the brain’s chemicals by making you less anxious. However, the experience only lasts for a short time, and whenever it wears off, you’ll begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms, excessive anxiety, and panic attacks.

You’ll feel like you need to do more drugs to help you get less anxious. Apart from these drugs being harmful, the stress and anxiety that one tries to avoid come back much stronger after each episode. The best decision you could make would be to give up on such substances.

      4. Avoid Using Refined Sugar

Refined sugar isn’t a healthy choice since it has been known to cause diabetes mellitus, obesity, and other health issues. People who consume high refined sugar content are more likely to experience anxiety attacks than those who don’t.

Refined sugary drinks have also been known to worsen anxiety and its symptoms. If you want to reduce these symptoms, such as chest tightness, pain, and discomfort, then you are better off keeping the amount of refined sugars you use to a minimum.

Now that we’re done with the preventative measures, it’s time we moved on to treatment options.

chest tightness anxiety treatment

How to Get Rid of Chest Tightness?


3. Pharmacological Treatment Options

Physicians use several medications to treat anxiety and its related signs and symptoms, including chest pain. However, it would be quite helpful if you were cautious and only used prescription medication prescribed by healthcare experts. You also need to ensure that all medicine prescribed is approved by the FDA.

So, Is Anxiety Chest Pain Treatable?

Anxiety chest tightness is a treatable condition. However, you need to seek professional help from reputable medical practitioners that will inform you if your chest pains are due to anxiety attacks or not. Getting a timely and accurate diagnosis could help save you from lots of trouble and worry.

Once your doctor is aware that your chest pains are due to anxiety disorders, it will become easier for them to recommend the best treatment procedures and medication.

Most common forms of therapy used to treat anxiety chest tightness include pharmacological therapy and psychotherapy.

Drugs Used to Treat Anxiety Attacks Leading to Chest Pain

If coping techniques do not work for you, it would be best if you moved towards obtaining a prescription for your condition. However, you have to note that medications that treat anxieties also come with their side effects and risks. Using these medications could help put a stop-gap and give you some time to learn new coaching techniques to control your symptoms.

Selective serotonin receptor inhibitors (SSRIs), and benzodiazepines are the two main classes of drugs that you could use to treat anxiety attacks. However, if you are an alcoholic, the chances are high that if you use benzodiazepines, you could develop a severe chemical reaction to these drugs.

 1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

These are the most commonly used antidepressants and are used to treat anxiety and its associated complications. They are thought to be safer and have fewer side effects as compared to other antidepressants. 

If your chest tightness is the result of anxiety, you should discuss the symptoms with your doctor- Click the button below.

The SSRIs that have been proven to treat anxiety and its related chest pains are:

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)

Possible side-effects associated with SSRIs include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness, restlessness, or agitation
  • Sexual problems, such as; a reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, or difficulties reaching orgasm
  • Impact on one’s appetite, which leads to weight gain or loss

       2. Benzodiazepines

These classes of drugs treat many conditions, including anxiety and its associated signs and symptoms. They are suitable for short-term use since long-term use could lead to negative side-effects such as developing a high tolerance.

Some of the benzodiazepines that are highly prescribed are:

Some of the side-effects associated with benzodiazepines include:

Some more adverse effects include:

  • Memory problems
  • Deliriums, especially in older adults
  • Behavioral changes, i.e., Increases risk-taking
  • Possible increased risk of dementia, although it has not yet been confirmed.
  • Risk of dependence, especially with long-term use
chest tightness anxiety

For How Long Does the Chest Pain Due to an Anxiety Attack Last?

Medications and drugs are not the only options you’ve got in managing your chest pain and anxiety. There are modern-day therapies that you could use that that have proven their effectiveness in combating anxiety. Many proven non-pharmacological options have proven quite beneficial for many people.

Moving on to the last point. 

4. Non- Pharmacological Treatment Options

Suppose all the other treatment options have not worked for you, or maybe you want to try non-pharmacological options before you finally try anxiety medications. In that case, you could read this section to figure out how you could go about it.

Various psychotherapies could help you manage your condition better. These psychotherapies include:

       1. Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This is a psychotherapeutic treatment that helps individuals overcome destructive thought patterns, emotions, and behaviors. Using CBT helps eliminate these negative thoughts and replace them with positive, realistic thought patterns.

This treatment option follows the following strategies when dealing with anxiety-related symptoms:

       2. Counseling

Counseling involves talking to your therapist in confidence and getting an open chance to express and discuss your mental health issues. Your therapist can and will help you figure out your difficulties and devise strategies to help you deal with them and heal.

You could get counseling for various reasons such as:

  • Chronic chest pain due to anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Long-standing mental illness
  • Behavioral issues

       3. Interpersonal Therapy (IP)

This type of therapy helps affected individuals address repressed issues and triggers that cause them to experience their mental health issues such as anxiety and other related disorders.

All said and done, these therapeutic interventions have proven to be quite beneficial in treating chest pain and other symptoms that result from anxiety. After an accurate diagnosis from your doctor, you could modify your lifestyle and get the right therapy to ease your symptoms and eliminate the condition.

You could also try your hands-on on some of the remedies we just shared to help you prevent anxiety chest pain. These remedies will help prevent frequent anxiety attacks and guide you towards an anxiety-free life.

Therapists and doctors can also teach you other coping mechanisms that could help you stay in control. These techniques could help you regain your calmness and reduce any severe symptoms that may arise from anxiety, including chest pain attacks.

CBT may help as a treatment method for chest tightness- Click below to get professional help as it can make a huge difference.

The Takeaway

Identifying whether you suffer from anxiety or any other disorders is the most crucial step towards accurately understanding your condition. When you begin learning to cope with your anxiety, you’ll get more insight into managing the complications associated with your anxiety disorder, including chest pain.

Preparing yourself to manage anxiety may not immediately provide 100 % of the results; however, it could make you more prepared and secure to deal with the situation with a practical approach. So, schedule your appointment today!

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