8 Tips for Coping with Anxiety Induced Heart Palpitations
Eileen Bailey | April 9, 2012
Reviewed by Christos Ballas, M.D. on July 16, 2017
Heart palpitations are a common symptom of anxiety. Palpitations are often described as an unusual awareness of the heartbeat or feeling your heart pounding or racing. While palpitations are rarely serious, if you are experiencing these, it is a good idea to get checked by your doctor as sometimes palpitations can signal arrhythmia, tachycardia, bradycardia or atrial fibrillation.
Rule out underlying medical causes
Talk with your doctor to make sure there are no underlying medical causes. Knowing there is nothing wrong may help you relax when you do get palpitations. Besides possible heart conditions, anemia, low blood pressure, dehydration or an overactive thyroid condition may cause palpitations. Hormonal changes in women, during menstruation, pregnancy and perimenopause, can also cause palpitations.
Know the symptoms
Understand what additional symptoms may signal a heart condition and require medical care. For example, if you have dizziness, fainting, chest pain or shortness of breath you should immediately contact your doctor or visit an emergency room.
Be aware of medication side effects
Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any medications, even over-the-counter medications, as some may cause or contribute to your palpitations, for example, diet pills, asthma inhalers, thyroid medications, decongestants and some herbal and dietary supplements may cause palpitations.
Reduce stress levels
Try to reduce your stress levels. Emotional stress is one of the most common causes of heart palpitations. When you begin to feel palpitations, take steps to relax. Methods such as deep breathing can help you relax. Other stress relief strategies, such as meditation, guided imagery or yoga can help reduce your overall feeling of anxiety when practiced on a daily basis.
Avoid trigger substances
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, which can all be triggers for palpitations.
Add exercise to your daily routine. Even 15-20 minutes of exercise each day has been found to reduce anxiety levels all day.
Write it down
Keep a record of your palpitations. Not only will this help you find triggers, if there is a medical problem, this information will help your doctor better understand exactly what is going on and better treat your condition.
Seek anxiety treatment
Seek treatment for anxiety. As you learn to manage your anxiety and stress levels, your palpitations should decrease or go away.