This post has been provided by Paul of AnxietyGuru.com. As you may remember, last week, one of my posts appeared on the anxietyguru site and this week I am bringing you a post written by Paul. It is my hope that we can learn from shring and reading about different perspectives on anxiety.
Picture it, a nice sunny day and your sitting on a lawn chair under a big tree sipping lemonade when all of sudden you get a sharp jabbing pain in the center of your chest. You go from totally relaxed to "oh no!" in about 3 seconds. This is a very typical reaction to anxiety induced chest pain. Chest pain can create a swift and focused sensation of fear all over your body in what feels like an instant.
Your first assumption is that you're having a heart attack and that you're going to die suddenly. After several minutes of experiencing chest pain, even though you haven't died just yet, you figure that it has to be something serious. Symptoms like chest pain may have even prompted you to visit the ER or set up an appointment with your primary doctor.
If you did go to see a doctor he/she probably put you through the paces of blood tests, EKG, stress test and maybe even a portable heart recorder for good measure. The tests all came back normal and you were sent on your merry way. But, you still get chest pain from time to time. So what is happening, can it be anxiety causing you to have these pains?
First let me just say that if you are experiencing regular chest pain and haven't seen your doctor you should go see him/her asap. Chest pain really can be a sign of heart attack or other serious heart condition. Really I'm not trying to be an alarmist but this is just a fact. However, once you have been through the hamster wheel and have been told that your problem is nerves than you might be experiencing anxiety induced chest pains. Anxiety does have the ability to make your chest hurt and it does this in generally five ways.
1. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD causes your stomach to create excess acid which is "backed" up into your esophagus which in turn creates heart burn and chest pain.
2. Esophageal spasm : This causes your lower esophagus to contract and also disturbs the muscles in your chest wall. This is a random and involuntary contraction of a series of muscles.
3. Stress : High levels of stress over a prolonged period of time can cause muscle tightness and tension. This can lead to all kinds of aches and pains all over, including the chest area.
5. Panic attacks :It is also very common to feel chest pain and shortness of breath when experiencing a panic attack.
I have read many articles that try to explain the difference between chest pain and a heart attack. As far as I can tell there is very little difference between the two. This is exactly why it is so important to see your doctor if you are experiencing new or different types of chest pain.
Once you have been checked out however you should relax and accept that not all chest pain is heart related. This is not to say that it isn't frightening because it absolutely is. I'm just saying that you should try to put your mind at ease so you can reduce your stress level which would decrease the anxiety symptoms that create chest pain.