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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Stress and Chest Pain

11/07/2006

Question:

For the last few weeks I have been getting very slight, sharp pains beneath the top or middle of each breast...very deep and high, possibly in the top part of the rib cage. I was worried it was my heart until it started happening on both sides. It doesn`t hurt very much, but I have never experienced this before. I am 26, with low blood pressure, and have a generally good diet and health. I excercise a few times a week. The pain usually happens when I am sitting or lying. I did go through a very traumatic and stressful time this whole summer,it could be related to stress. Thank you!

Answer:

This question has been forwarded by Women's Health:

Certainly stress can exacerbate underlying medical problems, and a specific anxiety disorder, known as panic attacks, can have chest pain (usually with shortness of breath, anxiety, fear, sweating and other symptoms) as part of the attack.  However, your pains do not sound like panic attacks.

Yes, stress can make something worse, and can lead to common aches and pains like headaches (especially muscle tension) and stomach aches (nausea and diarrhea are common), but it is unlikely to give you a new pain like you are describing.

I would encourage you to see your family physician or primary care doctor if the pains continue.

For more information:

Go to the Anxiety and Stress Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati