Anxiety is a real obnoxious thing, am I right?
Everything gets worse when your mind is clouded with anxiety. Time starts to slow down—and not in the cool way, like when you’re making that last second three point shot, or kissing your significant other for the first time—it slows down in a way where everything awful goes on forever. Your mood swings immediately from happy-go-lucky to a nervous wreck. You get the shakes, and a tendency to start freaking out a bit.
Yeah, anxiety is a real pain.
But it’s not just a pain mentally—actually, anxiety can hurt a lot physically. That’s right. Anxiety can very literally hurt.
“Total eclipse of the heart”
I think we all know from first-hand experience that the first pain we feel from work/life induced stress and anxiety starts in our chests. Specifically, our hearts. According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine entitled, “Panic Disorder and Chest Pain: Mechanisms, Morbidity and Management”, PD (or, Panic Disorder) is a psychiatric condition suffered in 1 to 4 of every 100 people. It goes on to say,
“Panic attacks may lead to chest pain through a variety of mechanisms, both cardiac and noncardiac in nature, and multiple processes may cause chest pain in the same patient. Panic disorder is associated with elevated rates of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, cardiomyopathy, and, possibly, sudden cardiac death,”
“Chest pain is a common symptom of panic attacks; 22% to just over 70% of panic attacks are associated with chest pain. Likewise, between 18% and 25% of all patients who present to emergency departments with chest pain have PD.”
It’s safe to say then that science proves that anxiety causes chest pain. You may not have full blown panic attacks, but the fact that studies like these are directly linked to high levels of stress definitely indicates that, yes, you can at least feel a tightness and ache in the heart when you’ve got too much to handle.
Little known anxiety-related issues
Like I alluded to earlier though, there are a number of other bodily pains associated with stress and anxiety, some of which are even new to me after doing the research! For example, from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,
- Arthritis, although general (like joint pain, stiffness, inflammation, damage to joint cartilage) can be caused by anxiety.
- Fibromyalgia (click the link to learn more) can be linked to anxiety. 20% of people who live with this chronic pain also suffer from an anxiety disorder.
- Migraine headaches can be linked to certain amounts of stress and anxiety.
- People with a number of back pain issues are more likely to suffer from them due to anxiety or depression than people without any.
Even seemingly random muscle pains can be caused by certain amounts of stress. And that’s just due to the natural tendency to tense up muscles when we feel “uptight” or under pressure.
Treating anxiety pains
Treating various pains caused by anxiety is case-by-case. From a less intense standpoint, if you’re experiencing generalized muscle soreness due to anxiety, try finding alternative methods to alleviate your stress. Things that can help do that include:
- Getting a full night’s rest
- Meeting friends and/or family
- Having fun in general
Those might be the easiest routes to take, and quite frankly the simplest first steps to possibly curing any pains you may be suffering from anxiety. Of course, with the more serious medical conditions, there are definitely more serious steps you might need to take. I would advise first seeking a medical professional to diagnose any health issues—it’s their job to look after your health. From there, you might be prescribed medication, physical therapy, or another medically approved means to start recovery.
Last, I would highly suggest you try speaking to friend, family member, or counselor if your anxiety levels are too high. Often times the biggest reason we are so wound up is because we fail to unwind our problems and pour our emotions out to someone who genuinely cares. Confide in someone who is loving and empathetic, and willing to be there in the dirt with you. A little love goes a long, long way!
It’s true: our bodies can feel the hurt from putting too much stress on ourselves. We can quite literally buckle under the weight of day-to-day anxiety.
But anxiety—stress—is very much a mental state of being. The cure then, begins and ends with you!
Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach
 “Panic Disorder and Chest Pain: Mechanisms, Morbidity and Management”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181226/