Here’s a situation many of us are all too familiar with. You work in an office. You’re surrounded by many coworkers whom you interact with daily, and you may be sitting in a packed conference room when suddenly – without warning – the company president asks you a question you weren’t prepared to answer. A feeling of stress overwhelms you – a panic attack, and you slowly feel a twitch in your chest, then a dull ache that reaches a crescendo until the meeting ends and you make it back to your desk. Yes, by all accounts, anxiety can cause chest pain.
What is Anxiety?
According to Harvard Medical School, anxiety results from worry, tension, fear, and feeling trapped in situations beyond control. In older men, stress percolates into anxiety when a person has too much time on his hands, with few goals to achieve, and his mind and body feel less engaged. “Other life-changing events also can increase anxiety, such as financial stress, health issues like heart attacks or injuries that affect mobility, or the death of a spouse or friend. Sometimes certain situations, like large social settings or noisy or unfamiliar environments, can cause anxiety,” as further reported in Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Physical symptoms of anxiety can be unique for each person, just as different types of anxiety manifest themselves uniquely based on physical and mental wellbeing and the situation in which it occurs. Intense stress resulting in anxiety can trigger not only physical pain but worry that you’re having a heart attack. If you’re healthy with no history of heart problems, physical symptoms brought on by stress are most likely just that – stress, a panic attack. But if you have chest pains or have cardiovascular issues, the best course of action is to see a doctor – immediately.
Here are some physical symptoms of anxiety that you should be aware of.
- Feelings of tension, restlessness and nervousness.
- Increased heart rate. The normal heart rate for a healthy adult when not involved in physical activity is between 60-100 heartbeats per minute. If you’re concerned about your heart rate, there are many inexpensive wristband devices to monitor vital statistics about breathing and heart health.
- A heightened sense of doom, panic, or impending danger.
- Pounding headaches that can’t be relieved by over the counter pain medication.
- Hyperventilation, or breathing very fast and causing an imbalance between oxygen you inhale and carbon dioxide that you exhale.
- Sweating or visibly trembling.
- Fatigue or feeling physically weak.
- Inability to focus on anything except what’s causing stress.
- Not being able to sleep properly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the average person older than 12 needs between 7-10 hours of sleep each day.
- Uncontrollable worry.
- The sudden onset of nausea, stomach pain, or other gastrointestinal trouble.
- Trouble breathing, such as shortness of breath, rapid breathing, or feeling like you’re choking.
- Tingling sensations or numbness in different parts of the body.
- Feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or as if you’re going to pass out.
- Feeling too warm or too cold.
Treating anxiety can be complicated. You may need to try multiple kinds of care before finding one that works. Be realistic with your expectations, with what may or may not work, and with the duration of treatment and costs involved. Seeking medical attention for severe chest pains is always recommended and speaking with a mental health professional to work through general anxiety disorders is another option. There are also home remedies that may be worth looking into.
- Deep breathing techniques. Find someplace private, inhale for 10 seconds, hold it for a second, then exhale and repeat 2-3 times.
- Acceptance and perspective. If there’s something beyond your control, why worry?
- Calming visualization. Picture something that instantly calms you or brings happiness.
- There are smartphone apps to help relieve anxiety, but you also may consider weighted blankets, an oil diffuser, an adult coloring book, a gel mask, personal massager, or many others.
Are There Other Solutions?
We know anxiety can cause chest pains, but the science is still out on any direct connection between heart attacks and anxiety. One problem you need to overcome is the belief that seeking help for crippling anxiety is a sign of weakness. It’s not. If anything, taking that all-important first step is a show of strength and recognition you have a problem to solve. Intense, persistent physical pain brought on by anxiety should also be discussed with a medical professional. Another option worth asking a doctor about is ketamine, a medicine administered by IV or through a nasal spray. This is a treatment that has a growing body of evidence that attests to its effectiveness when it comes to helping alleviate problems with anxiety.
Ketamine for Anxiety
One of the most exciting things about ketamine infusion therapy is that it is not only effective for the treatment of anxiety and other mental health conditions, but it is very effective at breaking the cycle of many forms of chronic pain. Some studies even indicate that Ketamine can bring relief in up to 70% of patients.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an anxiety disorder we invite you to contact us today to learn more about the clinical use of Ketamine.