Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is characterized by extreme worry restlessness, and chronic stress about many different aspects of life. People face chronic anxiety due to stress regarding issues like personal and professional life, financial matters, health issues, family problems, and career-related stress. 

Anxiety is often characterized by numerous symptoms that are often hard to notice. Rapid breathing, excessive sweating, restlessness, anger, aggression, and increased heart rate are all symptoms of anxiety.

An individual is said to be suffering from GAD if they’re in a state of chronic worry and stress. Being overly conscious of their surroundings and constantly living on the edge are the main distinguishing factors for generalized anxiety disorder. 

How does it affect one’s physical health?

Our mental and physical health go hand in hand. Any disorder occurring in one will automatically result in a ripple effect on the other. In other words, chronic anxiety often takes a toll on one’s physical health in many ways. Some of them are discussed below:

  1. Loss of appetite:

Mental stress and anxiety seriously affect one’s appetite levels. A dip in appetite is a clear indicator of anxiety. And also losing one’s appetite can take a serious toll on the mental health as well. 

  1. Gut health:

The gut forms the core of one’s health. Any disorder occurring in the gut causes mental disturbance and vice versa. So, if your body is dealing with chronic symptoms of anxiety, it causes a decline in smooth digestion, metabolism, assimilation, and excretion. 

  1. Low immunity:

Since the body cannot function optimally when the mind is anxious and at unrest, it causes a fluctuation in good physical health as well. A drop in immunity is expected at this stage. Add to it the possibility of a decline in gut health and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. 

  1. Lifestyle changes:

Other lifestyle changes like insomnia, headaches at night, depression and muscle tension are all repercussions of chronic anxiety. These lifestyle changes cause multiple effects in all areas of life like work, study, relationships, and the personal and professional lives of individuals. 

Why does chest pain occur due to anxiety?

All these consequences of GAD are quite apparent since they negatively impact the mind and body of an individual. However, the most difficult consequence to deal with them all is chest pains. 

Chest pain due to anxiety can often be misunderstood as a stroke since the effects are nearly the same. Difficulty in breathing, restlessness and chronic pain in the chest are all overlapping symptoms of both anxiety and a stroke. 

One of the biggest causes of chest pain in case of an anxiety attack is hyperventilation. Constant heavy breathing accompanied by physical heaving of the chest results in pain. An anxious mind causes the muscles around the chest and abdomen to become stressed and tensed which also contributes to pain. Oesophageal spasms are also common in the case of an extreme anxiety attack.  

Other major symptoms of an anxiety attack also cause dizziness, feeling faint, and tensed muscles. Pressure, panic, tightness, or squeezing sensation also persists in case of anxiety attacks. 

Although both anxiety attacks and heart stroke are accompanied by chest pains, there are some distinguishing factors as well. Pain due to heart stroke causes tightness and a squeezing sensation in the chest. On the other hand, an anxiety attack causes muscle tension in the middle of the chest similar to sharp, stabbing pain. 

Nausea and sharp pain that travels down from the jaw to the arm on the left side of the body are clear indications of a stroke. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks often result in chest pains that are hard to ignore. All you need to do is look for such clear signs of panic attacks and you’ll easily spot the differences between the two. 

How to address chest pain due to anxiety?

Chest pain occurs only when one’s anxiety attack is severe and chronically occurring. In such a case, it becomes imperative to address this pain to relieve the individual of physical discomfort at the earliest. Here are a few ways by which one can regulate their physical health, especially chest pain, in case of anxiety attacks:

  • Deep breathing: 

Deep, slow breathing is just the right way to bring your anxiety under control and slow down the chest pains. Breathing deeply regulates your heart rate and blood circulation which, in turn, has a very positive impact on one’s anxiety levels. 

  • Be mindful of the moment: 

Usually, when an anxiety attack sets in, we often lose connection with reality at the moment. We may not be as aware of our senses as we usually are. So, when you feel your chest becoming heavy due to anxiety, slow down for a bit and soak up the moment in reality.

Observe your surroundings. Become aware of your senses. Divert your mind to the most mundane aspects around you so that your mind can focus on something else other than the chest pains. 

  • Pay attention to posture:

Extreme chest pains can make it difficult to sit or stand straight. In such cases, lie down if the situation permits. If not, sit down comfortably, relax, and meditate for a few minutes until your breathing and heart rate returns to normal.

Summing it up:

Chest pains due to anxiety can translate into serious health consequences with time. Hypertension, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, and dwindling gut health are all potential hazardous repercussions of being chronically stressed and anxious. 

Hence, it is important to understand one’s state of anxiety and the effect it causes on one’s physical health. Only when we correctly recognize the situation can we take measures to amend it in the long run. Be very mindful of how your mind and body react to triggers of anxiety. 

Recognize how your body responds to the various therapeutic techniques you adopt to soothe chest pains due to anxiety. Once you understand how to deal with your symptoms, you can easily address your anxiety attacks and the resulting chest pains in the best manner possible.