Anxiety vs arythmia

Sorry if I am taking up too much space with my issues and I sincerely hope that in the not too distant future I will be able to add some useful and positive input.

I am not yet taking meds for my AF but am likely to start tomorrow following seeing my consultant. My biggest current concerns are around the palputations and arythmia I am currently having much of the time. Is there any way of knowing wether the symptoms are caused by the anxiety or are "straight forward" cardiac symptoms?

Many thanks


15 Replies

  • Hello Max - it's very difficult for anyone to say whether the symptoms are anxiety based or are electrical disturbances without looking at your ECG. But, for me anxiety has always made any arrhythmia much worse and more worrying. It's so easy to think that we shouldn't worry but when the jumping starts, it's difficult to keep calm.

    It's good that you have drugs to start tomorrow as this may be the first step in controlling some of the unpleasantness. I find that diversions, rest, exercise and slow breathing help - depending on which wild jig my heart decided to do. For example, in AF I had to lie down and wait until it passed but for ectopics, breathing and mild exertion makes me feel better.

    One of the best therapies is a consuming interest - in anything. We AF'ers are inclined to mentally watch our hearts, waiting for every jump, but a good hobby which requires concentration is a helpful diversion.

    All this is so easy to say - but it needs practice to work. Can you identify the different ways your heart misbehaves by taking your pulse and then act in the most comfortable way to deal with it?

    Best wishes with your drug therapy - I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.

  • Or you could do what I do and spend all you time watching the forum and trying to help others! ha ha Seriously there is nothing like a good diversion. Stay busy and don't focus on AF or it WILL take over your life.

  • I agree 100%. Slow deep breathing has become a good friend. And rediscovering my old horse who has been a pasture pet. too long has been great for chasing away the anxiety monster. plus physically Im getting better.

  • Try an ablation at Mayo Clinic. Dr Thomas


  • Mindfulness techniques which you can get some short videos off the net. my anxiety made my symptoms worse. I agree with other commentators try not to think about it but that is the hardest thing to do when you heart is dancing in your chest. I hope your meds work and you will feel better. Chris

  • There's a huge link with me and it's not just actual anxiety as such. It can be annoyance (a queue, watching a rubbish film and not being able to get out), and it can also be extreme pleasure when once I went to see my favourite band of all time play my favourite song of all time and quite literally on the first note, I burst into quite an extreme arrhythmia. But I enjoyed it!

    Think it's best described as a link between your brain and your heart electrics rather than anxiety. I've heard an EP describe it as a link with emotions rather than anxiety.

    My GP supplied me with a very small amount of anti-anxiety pills which have worked great. I rarely take them, they are addictive, but wow do they work. I carry them everywhere. Just by having them on me means I don't have to take one. A month's supply will last me 2 years. Sometimes I will take half a pill and it still works fine, might be just a placebo, but it works for sure.


  • sounds like you described me Koll apart from the pills!! lol

  • I agree with Koll. With regard to the anti-anxiety pills. Could you let me know what they are called. I would find them useful too.

  • Mine are diazepam. Very addictive though but your doctor will go through all that with you if you go down that route.

  • Yes I find 2mg of diazepam works great for me as well. Rarely take one though but knowing I've got them is all I need

  • Thank you. I too have got Diazapam; 2 mg tablets. One doctor refused to give them to me because as you say they are thought to be addictive. Perhaps for many people, but I don't believe everyone, as in my view people are different. I did manage to get 3 weeks worth at the beginning of this month from another doctor. So far I have only taken 1. Unfortunately, after my half-brother died I did need to take one every night before I saw the previous doctor.

    I think the Amiodarone didn't help with sleep. My mouth was so dry that I needed to drink over a 1 ltr of water during the night. Also I kept waking up from bad dreams.

    As you know the previous doctor prescribed me with anti-depressants which conflicted with Amiodarone which is now getting washed out from my system. Probably, three weeks to go. Also the previous doctor over-prescribed Flecainide.

    Three weeks after seeing the consultant I had a 72 hr heart monitor and will be seeing him again next Tuesday to see if ablation is successful or not.

  • I also carry anti anxiety pills as a comfort blanket. Can't remember when I last used them. When I go into af, I sit down and play games on my iPad. Nothing with a timed element as that is stressful, rather something which requires thinking. I find it quite good to focus on something trivial and just wait. Deep breathing helps too.

  • It's a double edge sword. The palpitations may be triggered by anxiety but, palpitations trigger anxiety / adrenalin which in turn prolong the palpitations. Please do not beat yourself up over it because everybody here got anxious when the AF kicked in and those that didn't are liars. :-)

  • Having had increasing "bouts" of anxiety on occasions for some years, it was a blessed relief to have a quite dramatic episode of AF and get a diagnosis within hours. For some reason physical illness which can be demonstrated is easier to cope with for me than unexpected bouts of anxiety with no trigger. I still get anxiety "episodes " and they feel far worse than my brand of paroxysmal AF

  • I find that when I get anxious and I have anxiety it all becomes a self fulfilling prophecy heart rate speeds up, then I start worrying about AF, and the cycle continues. I am sure worry and anxiety play a major role in AF but I am not medically trained. I had diazepam but ass too afraid to take them, dye yo dude effect s etc. But now I hear good things here maybe I should consider it, might also keep me relaxed on a long flights as well. Wishing you all well. And one last thing mindfulness, meditation and all that good stuff is a big yes.

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