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What Causes Chest Pressure During Stress?

What Causes Chest Pressure During Stress?
Senior Asian woman with eyes closed holding her chest in discomfort, suffering from chest pain while sitting on sofa at home. Elderly and health issues concept

What Causes Chest Pressure During Stress?

Heart disease is less closely associated with chest pressure than stress, worry, or panic. Chest pressure or pain is one of the physical symptoms that can be brought on by stress hormones, which your body releases when you are anxious or stressed.

However, if you are an otherwise healthy adult feeling stress, your stressful mood is probably what is producing the chest pressure. This is not to say that you shouldn’t treat chest pressure seriously.

The good news is that there are strategies for controlling your anxiety and stress symptoms, which will stabilise your mood and lessen any unpleasant physical effects.

Let’s examine the relationship between chest pressure and stress, including its sources, how to properly diagnose it, any potential drawbacks, and how to cure it.

The Connection Between Stress and Chest Pressure

Your body enters “fight or flight mode” when you are stressed or anxious, which causes a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms. Whether the danger is genuine or just seems real to you, this natural reaction may occur without your even being aware of it. 4

Adrenaline and cortisol, two chemicals that have a significant impact on both the body and the mind while under stress, are released by the body. Everybody reacts differently to stress and handles it differently. However, one of these reactions is that you can experience severe chest pressure or pain. 4

Other probable stress-related reactions besides chest pressure include:

  • a sensation of weight in your chest
  • Jaw clenched
  • Feeling ‘tense’
  • Feeling emotionally distant or numb
  • Hhaving sweaty hands and a pounding heart
  • I’m having trouble breathing.
  • Feeling dizzy or queasy
  • Shaking
  • Hhaving difficulty focusing
  • A feeling of rage or irritation
  • Frightening ideas or mental pictures
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Experiencing “going mad” feelings

When under stress or anxiety, it’s very typical to feel a tight chest or pressure in the chest area. In fact, a review from 2018 discovered that anxiety contributes to between 30% and 40% of ER visits where chest discomfort is the primary complaint.

Risk Factors

Anyone who is stressed out can feel their chest tighten. However, those who suffer from anxiety disorders and those who experience panic episodes are more likely to experience it. That’s because a more physically acute stress response is a hallmark of panic attacks. According to a 2019 study, 28% of patients who were admitted to the hospital with chest pain and normal angiogram results (no evidence of heart disease) ultimately received a diagnosis of panic disorder.

Complications of Stress and Chest Pressure

Not only does stress make you feel lousy, but it can also harm your health, particularly if it’s persistent. Your brain system, gastrointestinal tract, hormones, respiratory system, muscles, and even your reproductive system can all be impacted by stress. Stress is connected to diseases including diabetes, obesity, depression, and chronic fatigue as well as a depressed immune system.

Although chest pain isn’t necessarily an indication of heart illness, stress can make existing heart diseases worse, and ongoing stress may contribute to the emergence of cardiac problems.

When to See a Doctor

You shouldn’t panic if you have chest pressure and stress because it’s likely that stress is what’s causing your chest pressure. Chest pressure and pain can occasionally be symptoms of major medical disorders, therefore you can’t self-diagnose this.

Regardless of what you believe to be the cause of chest pressure, if you have an underlying heart disease and experience it, you should seek emergency medical attention. If you are otherwise healthy, you can wait around 20 minutes to see if the pressure in your chest subsides before calling your doctor for a follow-up.

Heart attack symptoms typically show up after physical activity rather than when you are at rest. Additionally, heart attack symptoms frequently worsen rather than improve with time. The following are signs and symptoms of a heart attack. You should dial 911 as soon as you find them:

  • Several minutes of chest pain on the left side or in the centre; the pain may come and go.
  • Feeling lightheaded, frail, or as though you might pass out
  • I started to get a cold sweat.
  • Neck, jaw, or back pain
  • Arduous breathing

Diagnosis of Stress and Chest Pressure

Chest pain is a symptom of a number of illnesses, including heart disease, acid reflux, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, and gallbladder disease. Therefore, if you have chest pain, it’s crucial that you see a doctor.

Your mental health could be the source of your chest pain if you also experience stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and other stress-related symptoms. However, it’s crucial to rule out any medical problems initially.

Your healthcare professional will probably ask you a number of diagnostic questions, check your vital signs, and ask you about your medical history to ascertain what is causing your chest pain or pressure. Depending on your symptoms, they could prescribe particular medical procedures or blood tests. If they are certain that stress is the source of your chest pain, they can suggest that you get therapy or talk to you about ways to manage your stress.

Treatment of Stress and Chest Pressure

Counseling, psychotherapy, and less frequently, medication, are used to manage stress. Chest pressure-related diseases including anxiety and panic attacks are typically treated with a mix of psychotherapy and medication.


Contrary to anxiety or panic disorders, stress is less often than other conditions to be treated with medicine. Anti-anxiety drugs, however, may be used to treat acute stress episodes. In addition to treating anxiety disorders, the following drugs can also be used to manage severe or ongoing stress:

  • inhibitors of selective serotonin reuptake (SSRIs)
  • Beta blockers
  • Benzodiazepines


Therapy is an excellent technique to address anxiety and stress, and it helps ease symptoms of stress like chest pressure. One may think of the following sorts of therapy:

  • Through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), you can learn to be more conscious of your ideas and how they influence your moods and behaviour.
  • To conquer your concerns, you can use exposure therapy, in which you are exposed to a stressor in a safe setting.

Coping With Stress and Chest Pressure

Even just feeling your chest tighten might be distressing. If you find out that stress rather than a physical ailment is what’s causing your symptoms, it can be comforting. However, you will still need to deal with the stress you are currently experiencing.

It’s not always possible to escape stressors like stress at job, relationship stress, money stress, or stress about the state of the world. However, you have control over how you handle stress. You can control the stress you will certainly experience by making some lifestyle adjustments.

Lifestyle Changes

To reduce your stress levels during trying times, try the following:

  • Daily exercise should be a part of your schedule.
  • Ensure that you receive enough rest.
  • Eat consistently and never skip meals.
  • Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • Every day, set aside some time to relax and breathe deeply.
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. Incorporate meditation into your Day—even a few minutes helps.


The body’s physiological reaction to stress results in chest pressure, which is a typical sign of stress. Therefore, if you experience chest pressure for the first time or it persists despite your best efforts to relax, you should see a doctor for a medical evaluation.