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Anxiety Chest Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Anxiety Chest Pain Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Anxiety chest pain can be a distressing experience, often resembling heart-related issues and causing significant concern. This blog post aims to shed light on the intricate relationship between anxiety and chest pain, exploring the symptoms, underlying causes, and effective treatments. By understanding how emotional stress can manifest physically, you can gain insight into managing and alleviating this common issue. 

Importance of Understanding Anxiety Chest Pain

Understanding anxiety chest pain is vital for several reasons. Firstly, it helps alleviate the fear and uncertainty that often accompany this symptom. Knowing that chest pain can be a sign of anxiety rather than a heart attack can significantly reduce panic and stress. This understanding helps you to effectively manage your symptoms and seek appropriate treatment.

Secondly, distinguishing anxiety chest pain from other severe conditions is crucial for proper care. Chest pain can be indicative of various health issues, including cardiac problems. Therefore, accurate diagnosis is essential to rule out life-threatening conditions and ensure you receive the appropriate treatment.

Let’s go through the anxiety chest pain step by step to understand it better.

What is Anxiety Chest Pain?

Anxiety chest pain is a distressing symptom often mistaken for a heart attack, but it originates from psychological rather than physical causes. According to neuroscience, anxiety triggers the amygdala, the brain’s fear centre, which activates the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This results in the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare the body for a fight-or-flight response, causing various physical reactions.

From the nervous system perspective, this hormonal surge stimulates the autonomic nervous system, specifically the sympathetic branch, leading to increased heart rate and muscle tension, particularly in the chest area. This tension can cause sharp or tight sensations, mimicking cardiac pain. Understanding these mechanisms highlights that anxiety chest pain, though alarming, is a psychological response impacting the body through intricate neural and hormonal pathways.

What Does Anxiety Chest Pain Feel Like?

Anxiety chest pain can feel alarmingly similar to heart-related chest pain, causing significant distress. It often presents as a sharp, stabbing, or tight sensation in the chest, sometimes radiating to the shoulders, neck, or back. Some people describe it as a crushing pressure or a persistent ache, making it hard to distinguish from more severe conditions like a heart attack. Moreover, it can be accompanied by rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and a sense of impending doom, further intensifying the fear. These sensations typically arise suddenly, often during or after a stressful event or in an anxiety attack.

Symptoms of Anxiety Chest Pain

Understanding the symptoms of anxiety chest pain is very important for proper identification and management. Here are some common symptoms that people may experience:

  • Sharp, stabbing pain in the chest
  • Tightness or pressure in the chest
  • Dull, aching sensation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • A feeling of impending doom
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms or hands
  • Pain that fluctuates with anxiety levels

Causes of Anxiety Chest Pain

Recognising the symptoms of anxiety chest pain is just the beginning; understanding the underlying causes is equally important for effective management. Let’s look at the causes of anxiety chest pain.

Psychological Factors: Stress and tension are primary psychological factors contributing to anxiety chest pain. The body’s response to stress involves the release of stress hormones, which can cause the heart to beat faster and the muscles to tense up, leading to chest pain. Panic attacks and intense anxiety can also result in chest pain. During a panic attack, the body’s “fight or flight” response is activated, causing physical symptoms such as chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath.

In her book, “The Secret Language of Your Body,” Inna Segal explains that chest problems can arise from overextending yourself to others without receiving much in return. This can lead to feelings of disempowerment, exhaustion, emptiness, fear, anxiety, and burnout. Difficulty expressing emotions and a tendency to control people and situations to feel safe can result in feeling stifled and restricted. Additionally, a lack of self-trust, spontaneity, and creativity can contribute to these issues.

Physical Factors: Hyperventilation, often associated with anxiety, can lead to chest pain. When you breathe rapidly, it can cause an imbalance in the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood, leading to chest tightness and pain. Muscle tension and strain are also common physical factors. Anxiety can cause the muscles in the chest to tighten, leading to discomfort and pain.

Biological Factors: Hormonal imbalances can play a role in anxiety chest pain. The body’s stress response involves the release of various hormones that can affect heart rate and muscle tension. The nervous system’s response to anxiety can also cause chest pain. When the body is in a heightened state of anxiety, the nervous system can trigger physical symptoms, including chest pain.

Therapeutic Treatment for Anxiety Chest Pain

Here are some effective treatments that can help anxiety-induced chest pain:

Clinical Hypnotherapy:

Research clearly shows that 80% of the hypnotherapy group were improved with regard to chest pain compared with only 23% of controls. Clinical hypnotherapy is a therapeutic practice that uses guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness, often referred to as a trance. During this trance state, it opens the gateway of the powerful subconscious mind where the problem lies. Through bypassing the conscious mind, the hypnotherapist can help addressing various psychological and physical issues. 

Hypnotherapy can be used to manage pain, reduce stress, improve sleep, and treat conditions like anxiety chest pain, and phobias. By accessing the subconscious mind, hypnotherapy aims to uncover underlying issues and facilitate positive changes in behaviour and perception, promoting overall well-being.

Havening: 

The Havening Technique can help alleviate anxiety chest pain by using a combination of soothing touch, visualization, and distraction to generate delta waves in the brain. This process helps to reduce stress and calm the nervous system, effectively diminishing the emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety. By creating a sense of safety and relaxation, Havening can disrupt the patterns that trigger anxiety responses, providing relief from chest pain and promoting overall emotional well-being.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely practised, evidence-based psychological treatment that focuses on altering negative thought patterns and behaviours to improve emotional regulation and develop personal coping strategies. CBT is effective for a range of mental health issues, including anxiety chest pain, depression, and stress-related disorders. The core principle of CBT is that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are interconnected, and by changing negative thinking and behaviour patterns, you can experience significant improvements in your overall mental health. Through a structured process, clients work with therapists to identify and challenge distorted cognitions, learn new skills, and apply these techniques to real-life situations.

Self Help Techniques

Self Healing Exercise:

From the book “The Secret Language of Your Body”, here are the steps: 

Sit or lie down. Breathe slowly and deeply, allowing your body to completely relax. Imagine lying in a bath of healing orange liquid. Allow your body to soften and enjoy the experience. Sense or imagine a funnel in the middle of your chest.

Say: “Divine Healing Intelligence, I ask you to release all burdens, disempowerment, low self-esteem, suppression of feelings, anxiety, and fear from my chest, as well as all points of view, all patterns, and the positive and negative charges that contribute to this condition.” Repeat the word “CLEAR” until you feel a shift occur.

Say: “I allow all the cells in my body that are experiencing heaviness, degeneration, infection, or stress to now be released through this funnel into a purple flame.”

Observe as toxic and heavy energy moves out of your body, through the funnel, and into the purple flame. Using your thumb, gently massage the point between your ring finger and middle finger, on the palm of your right hand.

Massage it gently in a slow circular motion for a minute or two. While you are massaging, take deep, slow breaths, allowing your chest to fill with oxygen, and then expel all impurities from your chest and lungs. Do the same while massaging in the same place and fashion on your left hand.

Say: “Divine Healing Intelligence, please install a way for me to experience a life of ease, freedom, creativity, and love. Help me to find peace and tranquility in my heart and soul. Thank you.”

Say: “Divine Healing Intelligence, please heal and regenerate my chest, lungs, and heart to their maximum strength, vitality, and well-being. Thank you.”

Deep Breathing Exercises:

Deep breathing exercises are simple yet powerful techniques that can significantly reduce stress, anxiety chest pain while promoting relaxation. These exercises involve slow, deep breaths that fully engage the diaphragm, increasing oxygen intake and promoting a state of calm. Practising deep breathing regularly can help lower heart rate, stabilise blood pressure, and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Deep breathing exercises are easy to incorporate into daily routines, making them an accessible and effective tool for managing stress and improving overall health.

Conclusion

Anxiety chest pain is a manageable condition with the proper understanding and approach. You can take proactive steps toward better mental and physical health. When dealing with anxiety chest pain, choosing the right therapy can make all the difference. Unlike regular talk therapy, Clinical Hypnotherapy,  target the powerful subconscious mind, where the issue often starts. This approach offers a more effective and lasting solution for anxiety chest pain. Book a Free Consultation with our Clinical Hypnotherapist and take the first step towards a healthier, more peaceful life today.

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