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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Anxiety/chest pressure

04/08/2009

Question:

Can chronic tenstion, stress and anxiety (I`ve been diagnosed with panic/anxiety disorder) cause chest tightness and pressure? I`m terrified that I`m having symptoms of a heart attack. This never was a symptom of my anxiety in the past which is part of why I`m so scared. I feel the pressure mainly when I am sitting or laying down, it feels like its heavy around my heart and radiates down underneath my breasts. It`s been like this for 3 days now.

I`m a 28 year old female, suffer from heart palpitations and PVC`s. My doctor feels this is all anxiety related but I`m afraid thats what everyone will always think now. I have low cholesteral, little history of family heart disease and I quit smoking 2 months ago ( I`ve cheated a couple times).

Can anxiety really cause these symptoms? I currently take Remeron for the anxiety, but it really just keeps my panic attacks under control. I take Xanax before bed, only once per day.

Answer:

It is very common for anxiety and panic attacks to present with chest pain, sweating, palpitations and pressure.  However, I CANNOT diagnose your chest pain over the internet.  It is important that you follow up with your primary care doctor and your mental health provider.  If you are continuing to have symptoms, whether from anxiety or another cause then you need to keep working with your doctors and therapists on your therapy.  Many people with anxiety need both medications and counseling (especially behavioral cognitive therapy) for the best relief and most long lasting relief of symptoms.

Good Luck.

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Response by:

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