Anxiety Support
33,956 members38,115 posts

Chest pains due to stress - how do you treat/cope with the physical pain?


I have taken advise from my Nurse as I also have Hypothyroidism (last 18 months) and read lots about how to prevent and defuse stress. Understanding it is essential to me. Although I know all about what causes the chest pains and how to deal with long term, I don't know how to deal with them physically in an onset. For example I had news last night, it's something I have to deal with until the situation is sorted, but the pains started immediately and will last until whenever. I even have them when 'resting'. I feel like I am just 'living' with them which can't be right.

Thank you.

5 Replies

Hi there

I got the information below from the ' website.........hope it helps

'What Does Chest-Pain Caused by Anxiety Feel like?

Chest pain from anxiety is usually located over the heart and described as sharp pain. The pain usually increases when you breathe, but it doesn’t tend to continue more than a few minutes. If you pressure the area the pain gets worse (that is a major difference from heart related chest pain). It is usually accompanied with palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness and tingling in hands and feet.

What Causes Chest Pain During Anxiety Attacks?

When an anxiety attack begins, the body feels that it’s in a state of danger and produces adrenaline. Adrenaline gives you “a boost” of energy that you are supposed to use for escaping “the danger”. It speeds the heart rate and causes muscles to contract. That’s causes the chest pain. It can also be caused by the release of stomach acids and indigestion.

How to Stop Chest Pain During Anxiety Attacks

The symptoms of anxiety attack will positively respond to anxiety-control techniques, like deep breathing and relaxation exercises. Here is one powerful technique to stop chest pain in a few seconds. It is best done sitting but can also be done standing or lying down:

1. Sit with your back straight and your hands in your lap or on your thighs. Close your eyes. While doing this keep the tip of your tongue touching the top of your mouth. When you inhale – do it through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Ready?

2. Start inhaling slowly for 4 seconds (count them in your head not out loud). Push out your stomach and fill your lower lungs first like that. Then the rest of the lungs are filled.

Hold your breath for until you count to 7.

Exhale comfortably for 8 seconds. Try to imagine that all the anxiety is leaving your body while you are exhaling. You are letting it go.

Pause for 2 seconds without inhaling (very important) and do this one more time.

Repeat until you feel your chest pain gone. And it will be!'


Thank you so much for your response. I am due back to work next week after a period of sick (surgery) and not physically ready; the physio agrees but the GP won't give any more sick notes, I had to argue for this week's. I could feel the stress creeping in; but when I had some news that I had to deal with the other night - it went bang!

I have been inhaling until it's uncomfortable (temporary to rid the chest pain) and holding for a few seconds then letting go slowly, it's the first thing I do when they come on. However it's never worked. So this sounds more promising and I will certainly try... after my morning coffee.

Can I ask? Would you know if you come to any harm when the pains are in motion; say like a heart attack might? Or is chest pain just something that comes and goes like migraine?



Did you mean can the chest pains caused by anxiety do you any harm? Or did you mean could something else go wrong while you are having them?

The chest pains caused by anxiety are the muscles contracting and going into spasm, it's a bit like a cramp. It doesn't cause damage and the cure is to learn techniques to deal with it.

When you breath in you don't need to breath until it hurts or is uncomfortable. The main things is to let all the air out of your lungs until they are empty. You can do this by blowing out slowly as if you are continuously trying to blow out a candle with one breath until there is no breath left.

Then try to pause for the count of 2 and breath in through your nose, breath until you feel your ribs moving outwards under your arms. Put your hand there if you are not sure.

The chest pain caused by anxiety comes and goes probably find it's brought on by anxious thoughts as you said in your first post.

I would also say that you should mention them to your GP anyway as it is always a good idea to let him/her note any symptoms you have so that they can make note of them and also to ask them for their professional advice.

The advice that I have posted is just to help with the feelings and discomfort brought on by anxiety which it certainly sounds like but as it says on the guidelines on the page it is still advisable to seek a professional opinion.

I know what you mean about having them when resting ......they are quite noticeable when lying in bed. Anxiety can cause excess stomach acid too and that can add to the problem especially when lying down. You could try something to soothe the acid if you feel that is happening and your pharmacist would be the best to advise you there, tell them about any medical issues like the hypothyroidism so that they can best help you.

When you are anxious it's not a good idea to let your stomach get too empty even if you don't feel like eating. Having something to eat .....even a light meal like eggs on toast etc gives the acid something to do other than cause bother.

BTW do you have someone you know well to talk to when you feel anxious as doing this can help you relax and so help the chest pains also.

Best Wishes PL

1 like

Hi PL!

To the first question, both I suppose now that you've asked more specifically. Thanks for explaining in detail for me about the breathing - it is important to do it right I know.

My painful breathing is simply to exchange one pain for the other I suppose, (like banging your head on the wall with tooth ache), until I came across your suggestions that it.

My nurse that's treated me for the Hypo knows all about it and printed off some reading for me - it wasn't anything I didn't already know... and the breathing that I have done was suggested - but it's never worked.

As far as stomach acid is concerned yes I have had problems and have been prescribed Omeprazole, especially for when taking strong painkillers , (not associated) and this doesn't seem to be a problem at the moment; and yes the timing of taking other medication with my Hypothyroidism is a nightmare so I try to control things myself to avoid other complications.

A good point though with the eating a little - I'll remember that one.

I sleep or sit with my arms crossed above my head (yes really!) stretching the chest alleviates some discomfort... but not in public! lol!

Yes I have to work hard on my thoughts and 'blow' them away when getting negative, works great when not in a negative environment but lousy any other time. lol! I used to meditate years ago so will get back into the breathing technique. It does feel a little easier this afternoon to be honest.

Hmm talking therapy is good but you have to chose what you can discuss with who. ;) and yes I do when I can. Hubby didn't want to know about the recent problem with my parents and tends to switch off now. This time I made it clear I was in pain but ...:( just as my work issues frustrate him - so I don't discuss any more. His answer to the latter is to just 'leave.' :O He likes me at home but I'd much prefer to be busier and in a social environment.

The stress I have experienced over the last 18 mths has been very exhausting, and don't help me 'fight' any more as the article suggests so I'm just left with pains. (the Hypothyroidism won't help here either - gets complicated now) and I just feel like giving up. But it's not the real me - I used to work well under pressure but now... why bother?? It's all just a game.

Anyway...... moving on. I am pragmatic and will work with it until it passes. :)

Many thanks.



Hi i have the same issues also a hypothyroidism sufferer, having on going work related stress.. I have stress related ibs now too.. not fun. I will try the breathing exercise and see how that helps.. any other tips or over the counter medicine that any one has recommended?? Hope it improves Thanks.


You may also like...