Pain in the chest due to anxiety

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Robert Maurer

Pain in the chest due to anxiety

Nervousness almost always finds a way to manifest itself through physical symptoms; the pangs in the chest caused by anxiety are among the most annoying. Find out more about this phenomenon and how to distinguish it from a more serious situation.

Last update: June 19, 2019

Anxiety can express itself in different ways, from a feeling of suffocation to a spiral of negative thoughts that result in the fear of dying, passing through paresthesia, nausea or dizziness. Indeed, many of them go far beyond mere physiological activation. If there is one symptom that causes excruciating fear, it is usually pain in the chest from anxiety.

While other symptoms resulting from intense moods tend to attract less attention, the pains in the chest due to anxiety are one of those that worry most sufferers. Perhaps because this pain can be as close to what you feel during a cardiac event.

If man really gets used to pain, why does he suffer more and more with the passage of time?


Tracing the triggering cause of chest pains, especially when they affect the mediastinal region, is important; at worst, this pain can indicate an urgent health problem.

When one or more coronary arteries become blocked or ruptured, and therefore the blood supply to a specific heart region is blocked, that region, faced with a lack of oxygen and nutrients, generates a severely painful response, indicating a problem in the heart system.

Referred pain and stinging in the chest

The pain felt in the other organs, such as when suffering from kidney stones, also applies to the heart: the so-called referred pain arises, or the painful sensation that occurs in an area other than the heart, in this case the chest. This is the pain that many associate almost exclusively with a heart attack or heart attack.

For all these reasons, it cannot be ruled out that by suddenly experiencing a throbbing pain in the mid-chest area, anyone may think they have a heart problem. However, it actually can be due to various causes of different nature. Among them, we can find the following:

  • Cardiovascular Disorders.
  • Trauma.
  • Osteoarticular problems.
  • Muscle injuries.
  • Tumors.
  • Cardiac overload over time.
  • Somatic anxiety.

And it is the latter case that can be really interesting to investigate, because not only does it occur quite frequently, but it can also be an alarm bell that indicates if extreme levels of stress are occurring.

Why do you suffer from chest pains due to anxiety?

There is a phenomenon halfway between the physical and psychological state, called somatization and which has been extensively studied by both the psychological and medical disciplines. It consists of the physical manifestation (in the form of pain, abnormal movements, health problems, skin disorders, and so on) of emotional states.

Experiencing intense emotions - whether positive or negative - is usually accompanied by sensory perceptions in the chest; for this reason, when we are particularly happy, we can feel as if our chest is “exploding with joy”. At the same time, strong sorrow stimulates an unpleasant sensation in the chest.

Anxiety and stress

It is natural that, very often, the part of the body "chosen" by anxiety to manifest itself in a latent way is the chest, and that this manifestation is exactly pain.

Although this somatization is quite frequent and does not indicate an imminent danger, it can sometimes be a symptom of other anxiogenic elements in the person's life.

In general, the pains in the chest due to anxiety do not occur out of the blue, due to a passing or transient episode of anxiety; on the contrary, usually arise as a consequence of an intense and prolonged presence of anxiety in the individual. A presence that could generate negative consequences for the health and well-being of the same.

Faced with the perception of pains in the chest due to anxiety, the logical response of the individual is the manifestation of greater levels of anxiety. In this way, a vicious circle is created that feeds itself and that worsens the situation in some moments. 

How to distinguish the pains in the chest due to anxiety from something more serious?

Faced with the onset of chest pain, the first measure to take is seeking medical advice to determine if it could be a serious health problem. However, since we can't know in advance if you really need to worry, it's a good idea to stay calm.

When chest pain reflects a heart problem, it is usually accompanied by other symptoms or signs that tend not to be present when the aforementioned pain is purely anxious in nature. For example, the following:

  • The heart rhythm becomes irregular and often weak.
  • At the same time, vegetative symptoms such as cold sweat and hypotensive crisis occur.
  • Nausea, loss of strength, and even fainting can also occur.
  • The pain is more abrasive and throbbing; pain is generally felt across the chest from front to back, as if it extends towards the left arm or neck.

other symptoms

  • Symptoms typically appear that result in digestive problems (pain in the pit of the stomach, indigestion, stomach pain and even nausea and vomiting).
  • Pale skin is common.
  • In most cases, the pain does not subside as the person calms down.

If you have chest pains, the best thing to do is to stay calm and wait for a professional to confirm the source of the problem, especially if you have a tendency to feel anxious. It is important to take the episode with due seriousness and introduce some into our routine habits that will help us counter the effects of anxiety and stress. 

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