Physical Symptoms
Fact Checked

Anxiety Chest Pain Is Not a Heart Attack!

Victoria LeBlanc, MS, LCPC
Anxiety Chest Pain Is Not a Heart Attack!

Anxiety may be best known for its mental symptoms, but it's often the physical symptoms that cause the most distress.

One of the most frightening anxiety symptoms is chest pain. That's because chest pain is associated with serious heart problems, leading many to worry about their health. Yet it is common for chest pain to actually be a symptom of anxiety.

In this article, we'll look at some common causes for anxiety-driven chest pain, how to tell the difference between anxiety chest pain and a heart problem, and ways to calm yourself when you experience this type of pain.

Anxiety and Unusual Physical Symptoms

Rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, dizziness - these are the traditional symptoms of anxiety. But the vast majority of anxiety sufferers experience their own unique physical symptoms, including:

What Causes Chest Pain

It is always a good idea to visit a doctor at least once to rule out any potential heart health issues. Anxiety can cause chest pain, but an important factor in reducing the stress of that chest pain is by making sure you are confident that your heart is in good health. Visiting a doctor is never a bad thing!

Often those living with anxiety and panic attacks will experience chest pain caused by any number of different factors. Some of these include:

Because chest pain often occurs during anxiety attacks and with other anxiety symptoms, it can be extremely frightening. Most people report feeling as if they are having a heart attack and may even seek emergency medical treatment. Often the chest pain is harmless and can be calmed by learning how to manage it.

How to Tell the Difference Between Anxiety Chest Pain and Cardiac Chest Pain

There's no guaranteed method of knowing whether or not chest pain is caused by anxiety or by a heart problem. But generally the two differ in their overall experience:

Anxiety Chest Pain

Cardiac Chest Pain

There are a lot of similarities between the two. Both may have lightheadedness or dizziness and feel like the heart is being squeezed. Both can make it harder to breathe (or come as a result of it being harder to breath). It's not easy to tell the difference, but the differences are there. Furthermore, once you identify what anxiety chest pain feels like for you, in the moment, you may feel more reassured about what your symptoms are indicating (anxiety or cardiac). 

How to Reduce Anxiety and Chest Pain

The best way to manage chest pain is with prevention and by reducing your overall anxiety symptoms. The less you experience anxiety, the less risk you'll have for chest pain.

If you're currently experiencing anxiety and chest pain, the best things to do are the following:

If your chest pain is caused by gas or bloating, trying to let out some of the gas can also help.

Learning general anxiety management techniques are the most important strategy for reducing the experience of chest pain.

Did you know that your anxiety can lead to more than just chest pain?

While chest pain may be the most frightening symptom, it is just one of many physical symptoms that anxiety can cause. Other physical symptoms may include:

These anxiety symptoms can leave you feeling like your health is in serious jeopardy. By seeking medical attention to rule out health problems you can help to reassure yourself that you are okay and proceed to learn coping skills for managing your anxiety symptoms. Anxiety and stress prevention, along with treatment for your anxiety, is the best way to prevent future physical symptoms including the alarming symptom: chest pain.

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