What Does Anxiety Chest Pain Feel Like: Understanding It

Anxiety often makes you feel chest pain. It comes with short breath, fast heart, and feeling dizzy. All these signs show up at times during the day – but really high during panic attacks. Anxiety can have weak to strong symptoms that can change your daily life. Usually, folks feel tense or like they’re always on edge. Panic attacks, though, come on suddenly and can be really rough. They might have a clear reason or come out of nowhere. But in both cases, you’ll notice chest tightness and pressure.

Key Takeaways

  • Chest pain is a common symptom of anxiety, along with other physical sensations like shortness of breath and increased heart rate.
  • Anxiety can cause a range of chest pain symptoms, from a mild, constant ache to sudden, sharp pains.
  • Panic attacks are intense episodes of anxiety that can also trigger chest pain, tightness, or pressure.
  • Anxiety-related chest pain is often not associated with physical exertion, unlike chest pain related to heart conditions.
  • Seeking professional help and learning coping techniques can be effective in managing anxiety-induced chest pain.

Overview of Anxiety and Chest Pain

Anxiety is when your body feels stressed and on high alert. This is your body’s way of warning you of dangers. But sometimes, this feeling is too much for the situation and starts to harm your daily life. This is what we call an anxiety disorder. About 30% of adults may face this condition at some time in their lives. The symptoms are both in your mind and body. Getting help from a professional is key to handling these issues.

Anxiety and Physical Symptoms

When you are anxious, your heart rate and blood pressure can change. This happens from the nerves in your body reacting to stress. It’s your fight-or-flight response kicking in. This can lead to many reactions like sweating, fast breathing, and chest pain. You might also feel like your chest is being squeezed. This is because anxiety can make your chest muscles spasm.

Chest Pain: A Common Anxiety Symptom

Feeling chest pain with anxiety is quite common. It affects about 25 to 50 percent of people who seek help at the ER for chest pain not related to a heart attack. Other common signs of anxiety include trouble breathing, fast heart rate, and feeling dizzy. But don’t worry, there are ways to manage these symptoms. Techniques, talking to a therapist, or taking medication can all help control anxiety and chest pain.

Describing Anxiety Chest Pain

Anxiety chest pain is different for everyone. It may change day to day. Things that stress you can make the pain worse. Anxiety chest pain can feel different, such as:

Sharp, Shooting Pain

Suddenly, you might feel a sharp or stabbing pain in your chest.

Persistent Aching or Burning

A persistent ache, like heartburn, might happen in your chest.

Tightness or Tension

There could be a mild or intense tightness in your chest. It might be hard to breathe. Your heart could seem to be racing.

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Numbness or Tingling

what does anxiety chest pain feel like

Each person may feel anxiety chest pain differently. Some feel a slight constant discomfort or pain. For others, the pain comes and goes all day. Panic attacks might last from five to 30 minutes. Their symptoms usually end after about 10 minutes. Allow yourself some extra time to relax and recover. This step is important before you go back to your tasks.

SymptomAnxiety Chest PainHeart-Related Chest Pain
TimingUsually occurs while not engaged in physical activityCommonly flares up during physical exertion
Other SymptomsMay experience shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and dizzinessMay experience tightness or shooting pain in the jaw, left arm, or other parts of the body, squeezing or heavy pressure in the chest, and nausea
Seeking TreatmentIf unsure, seek treatment immediately to rule out a heart attackSeek treatment immediately, especially for individuals at increased risk

If you’re feeling anxiety-related chest pain, it’s usually when you’re at rest. But if you have a heart problem, chest pain shows up when you’re active. Remember, chest pain is not the only sign of a heart issue. It’s possible to have a heart attack without feeling any chest pain. This is especially common among women.

Differentiating Anxiety Chest Pain from Heart-Related Pain

It’s important to tell the difference between anxiety chest pain and heart pain. Anxiety chest pain mostly happens when you’re calm, like sitting or resting. Heart chest pain is usually felt when you’re active, such as running, jogging, or lifting heavy items.

Anxiety Chest Pain Characteristics

Chances are you have anxiety chest pain if it feels sharp, shooting, or burning and comes and goes quickly. It’s often with symptoms like fast heartbeat, sweating, and fear.

Heart Attack Chest Pain Characteristics

The chest pain from a heart attack is different – it feels heavy, tight, or like pressure. This pain may also move to the jaw, arm, or back. It doesn’t stop fast, and may come and go in waves.

When to Seek Emergency Care

Remember, not all heart attacks feel like chest pain, especially for women. Signs also include jaw or arm tightness, nausea, breathing troubles, and fast heartbeats. If you’re not sure what’s happening, get medical help. It’s important to make sure you’re okay.

Causes of Anxiety Chest Pain

Anxiety can make your heart beat faster and blood pressure rise. Also, panicking and breathing fast can lead to chest pain. Your body reacts fast when you feel anxious.

Fight-or-Flight Response

Your body changes when you’re stressed, it might feel tight. Inside, you might get angry or sad quickly. This is called the fight-or-flight response. When you’re under too much stress, your body can’t relax fast enough sometimes.

Muscle Tension and Spasms

Your muscles may tighten, causing pain in your chest. Also, your heart might beat really hard during stress. With tight muscles around your chest, the pain might feel strange.

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Breathing too fast during panic attacks can hurt your chest. This happens because fast breathing makes carbon dioxide in your blood go down. When this happens, blood vessels can tighten, causing chest pain. So, take slow breaths and try to relax.

Types of Anxiety Disorders and Chest Pain

Often, anxiety disorders cause more than just chest pain. They can lead to many physical and mental signs. Each anxiety disorder shows its own set of symptoms. The most common types include:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD brings about a not-stopping fear or dread for at least six months. It leads to feelings of restlessness or being irritable. Worry and fear may be too much to handle. You might feel your heart beating fast, chest pain, or start sweating. Other signs are shaking, stomach problems, headaches, and trouble sleeping.

Panic Disorder

This disorder means having moments of sudden and extreme fear, known as panic attacks. You might feel your heart racing and get chest pain. There could be trembling, sweat, and a sense of doom. You may also feel like you are losing control and wish to get away from where you are.

Social Anxiety Disorder

With Social Anxiety Disorder, you fear regular social situations a lot. This can lead to stomachaches, sweat, and feeling extremely fearful or self-conscious. Your heart might beat fast and you could feel chest pain.

Phobia-Related Disorders

If you have a phobia, you intensely fear a specific object or scenario. This can cause dizziness, or feeling like you might faint. You might experience a fast heartbeat, chest pain, sweat, stomach issues, hot or cold flashes, and have trouble breathing.

Managing Anxiety Chest Pain

If you’re dealing with chest pain because of anxiety, the first thing is to get help. Go to the ER to check for serious issues like heart problems. When they say it’s not physical, you can work on calming the anxiety pain.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing slows down your mind and body. Go to a quiet place. Inhale slowly for 10, pause, then exhale for 10. Do this a few times until you feel better. It will help lower your heart rate and ease your chest pain.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Be mindful and meditate to manage anxiety. It helps you understand your feelings and see them clearly. Focus on your breath to stop worrying. This breaks the cycle of anxious thoughts causing chest pain.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps change how you think to lessen anxiety. You learn with a therapist. They teach techniques to handle your chest pain from anxiety better.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you feel very anxious with chest pain a lot, it’s good to talk to a counselor. They help you understand what makes you feel so anxious. They teach ways to deal with these feelings. A doctor or counselor can show you how to get back in control. When you start feeling calmer, your chest pain from anxiety may go away.

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If talking and learning aren’t enough, medicine could help. These medicines have some bad effects. But, they can be useful at first. They can give you a break while you learn better ways to manage your anxiety.

Medications for Anxiety Chest Pain

Need help because anxiety makes your chest hurt? Your doctor might suggest some meds. These include antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, and beta blockers. Each helps in its own way to calm down the feelings of anxiety. 🙂


There are medications called SSRIs and SNRIs that might be used. They make more of certain brain chemicals. This change can lower anxiety symptoms like chest tightness and anxiety chest pressure.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

Benzodiazepines are also an option. They act quickly and can take the edge off of anxiety and panic. This helps with physical feelings such as anxiety chest discomfort.

Beta Blockers

Then there are beta blockers. They stop certain hormones and can calm down physical anxiety symptoms. Things like a fast heartbeat or shaking can get better. 🙂

Remember, not all these drugs will fit well for everyone with anxiety. It’s key to have a health expert who listens and meets your needs. 🙂


What does anxiety chest pain feel like?

Anxiety chest pain feels different for everyone. It might seem like pressure, tightness, or tension in your chest. You could feel it as a dull, burning ache, or a sharp, stabbing pain. Sometimes, it can also cause you to feel like your chest is numb or tingling.

What is the difference between anxiety chest pain and heart-related chest pain?

With anxiety chest pain, you might feel this way even if you’re calm and not doing anything physical. Heart-related chest pain, on the other hand, often happens after you’ve been active. Additionally, signs of a heart attack can include pain or tightness in the jaw or left arm, or a sense of heaviness or pressure in your chest. You might also feel nauseous or have trouble breathing.

What causes anxiety chest pain?

It’s caused by the body’s response to stress or anxiety. This includes your heart racing, blood pressure rising, and muscles tightening.

What are the different types of anxiety disorders that can cause chest pain?

Chest pain can be connected to several anxiety disorders. These include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Phobia-Related Disorders.

How can I manage anxiety chest pain?

There are different ways to handle anxiety chest pain. You can try deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also useful. If it’s really bad, seeing a therapist or doctor is a good idea. They might suggest medicine as part of your treatment.

When should I seek emergency medical care for chest pain?

If you’re not sure if the chest pain is anxiety or something more serious, go to the emergency room. It’s better to make sure it’s nothing serious than to risk a heart attack.