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KayMcDonnell(Listowel Therapy Centre)

Tightness in Chest With Anxiety


Anxiety, panic attacks. more anxiety and more panic

This condition often ensues after a person is affected by a panic attack. However, chest tightness can still afflict those with only mid-level anxiety. Due to similar sensations, one may confuse anxiety-related chest tightness with the onset of heart attack. In general, chest tightness caused by anxiety is less suffocating than heart attack. People often describe chest tightness as pressure or compression feeling on their chest cavity area, that is accompanied with shortness of breath and faster heart beat. It is often triggered by the fear of an impending or unknown danger. 
Sufferers are often concerned that they have early symptoms of heart attack. In reality there is a significant difference in the intensity throughout the episodes. Chest tightness is definitely less severe although sufferers can still be rushed to the hospital. It is likely that when they arrive at the ER, the symptoms mostly already subside. It is important to distinguish between the two conditions to prevent misdiagnosis and allow the sufferer to deal with their anxiety sooner and more effectively. Heart attack, on the other hand, feels more like a squeezing and crushing sensation in the chest, which is completely different with normal chest tightness. On people with heart attack, the pain spreads quickly to the shoulders, neck and jaw. People with panic attack don’t experience this symptom.

How Tightness in the Chest Happens;
Panic attack starts at the central nervous system when people sense the imminent arrival of a threat (whether real or imagined) and enter the fight-or-flight response. When our body experiences this response, the tightness happens because our mind perceives a threat and tends to exaggerate the threat level, causing a fight-or-flight response even when the stressors are insignificant. If this is the case, you should immediately seek assistance for a professional to treat your panic attacks. Tightness in your chest can last for the duration of the anxiety attack episode or goes at intervals. On more severe cases, the pain may be similar to being pierced or stabbed in the chest. It travels to esophagus and can get worse if you lie on your back.
The fight-or-flight response is one of our most primitive emotional reflexes, when we perceive threat and danger. It is literally our body’s way of preparing for a fight or flees the dangerous situation to save our life. When the reflex is triggered, a corresponding biological reaction occurs. Adrenaline, noadrenaline and cortisol are released into your blood stream. When these juices completely spread through your system, you’ll start to feel your heart pounding; you’ll shake, the chest tightens and the heart flutters irregularly, a completely terrifying experience. A panicked individual also have higher level of epinephrine and norepinephrine on the brain, both control the rate of brain functions. Both chemicals can put your brain to an overdrive and you may end up feeling disoriented. In more severe cases, people can suddenly burst into a maniacal episode and have frantic reactions.
To better understand your chest tightness, you should know the extent of your anxiety. Anxiety is not a bad thing, in fact, it’s important for personal self-defense and to help us improve ourselves despite the adversity. Try to correlate the actual threat and your anxiety level, panic attack should normally happen when the threat can endanger your life or make significant, unfavorable changes in your life. If you have chest tightness after experiencing low- or medium-intensity then you should see a therapist to help you understand your situation better. 
People who suffer from tightness in the chest from anxiety should rationalize their fears and try to control their predicament. By understanding the real cause of your anxiety,

You should understand how anxiety can affect your body, mind and well being;
Avoid Stressors;
Don’t put yourself in situations that can easily trigger panic attacks, like speaking in the public, simply say ‘no’ to invitations that make you feel unpleasant. Some people may stress you out, so you need to avoid them. Don’t accept additional works or say ‘yes’ to everything if they can add up your mental pressure. Learn How to Become Assertive;
People with panic attacks are usually have low self-esteem. If you are passive and feel worthless, then you’re opening yourself to symptoms of depressions. You can lean to become assertive by joining clubs or groups, so you can open up to others. This may take awhile, but once you become more assertive, you can have better outlook in life and can work more effectively to prevent anxiety. Practice Relaxation Techniques
By performing yoga, meditation and other exercises regularly you can prevent panic attacks better. Those who are adept at these exercises often have uplifted emotions, self control and better happiness, which increase self-esteem and self-confidence.
Regular physical exercise can benefit both your body and mind. It is also a proven method to prevent or at least lessen anxiety attacks. You should exercise 30 minutes a day, 4 or 5 times a week. This is a moderate intensity to promote healthy mind and body. Increase exercise intensity, if possible, to gain more benefits.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Just like regular exercise, you should have a healthy, balanced diet to maintain a low stress level and prevent illness. Eat only home-cooked organic foods, if possible, as processed foods often contain preservatives, artificial coloring, taste enhancers and other chemicals. 
Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine
A combination of coffee and cigarette can intensify anxiety attacks on some people. Avoid them whenever possible. 
Everyone experiences anxiety in different ways. Some of the most common symptoms include:
  • Constant and obsessive worrying

  • Feeling overwhelmed and wanting to cry all the time

  • Obsessive and repetitive thoughts

  • Wildly fluctuating emotions

  • Difficulty concentrating, becoming easily distracted

  • Difficulty learning or remembering things

  • Insomnia

  • Being unable to relax

  • A loss of libido

  • Changes to appetite – including craving sweets, losing your appetite, increased nausea and/or vomiting, changes in weight

Why Reflexology for Anxiety?
Reflexology has that track record in anxiety management. A study carried out at the University of Canberra in 2000 indicated that reflexology was extremely effectiveness in relieving anxiety, nausea and pain in cancer patients. Other studies, carried out in Europe, show reflexology to be very useful in treating stress-related anxiety (and reducing staff sick days by 25% over 3 years), and managing both pain and anxiety during labor and childbirth (and reducing the length of time in all stages of labor in the process).

The benefits derived from reflexology by people with anxiety are mainly from its therapeutic effects.  Massage movements are slow and deliberate, allowing the patient to relax and calm the mind.  As a result, heartbeat is regulated and the patient is better able to breathe deeply.  It is the preferred form of therapy for many individuals because it is non-invasive, does not require medication, and in its most basic form, does not require the use of special equipment. 

Reflexology is a great way of relaxing and learning to manage your stress levels and anxiety symptoms. As well as the profoundly relaxing experience of having a treatment from a professional reflexologist, you can also use hand reflexology in between sessions in order to manage your response to your anxiety symptoms yourself. One technique that many find useful is to develop the habit of working the solar plexus point on the hands from the moment you start to feel anxious. This point is easy to find .I generally show people where this point is on the hand for them to stimulate themselves.
In a study performed by the University of Udine in Italy, the group that received massages reported a general decrease in anxiety versus the control group.  The study concluded that reflexology in the form of a foot massage can be used as a treatment to complement or support conventional medical treatments to alleviate anxiety particularly brought on by chemotherapy.  It has also proven effective in improving patients’ feelings of well-being.  

Anxiety and Massage 
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, indicated that researchers found that a 30-minute back massage given daily for five days reduced anxiety of hospitalized, depressed and adjustment disorder children and adolescents.Another study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, indicated that researchers found that significant reductions in anxiety levels were found in employees receiving on-site chair massage.
For instance, massage has been documented as one of the oldest healing arts in the world. Records documenting its use date back over 3000 years.
There are hundreds of different kinds of massage and bodywork techniques.
Here are all the great things that can accompany a massage:
The metabolic rate of the body slows down.
Breathing becomes more regular and the heart rate comes down to normal range.
The blood lactate level also falls significantly.  Lactate is responsible for the muscular fatigue.
Blood pressure decreases.
Brain waves are altered in a beneficial way
The body secretes protective mood altering neurotransmitters. One of these, known as serotonin, is a powerful hormone associated with feelings of happiness, contentment and relaxation.
It is easy to see that the relaxation induced through massage can be helpful for anxiety.
Additional benefits that have been suggested are:
Improved concentration
Enhanced quality of sleep
Reduced or eliminated pain
Improved joint mobility
Improved circulation
Improved immune system functioning
Increased lymphatic drainage
Reduced tension within muscles
Reduced fatigue and increased energy
Ultimately it has been said that massage helps relieve the stresses and tensions of everyday living that can eventually lead to disease and illness. The negative effects of many illnesses can be exacerbated by stress.
Also massage is a great alternative to the unhealthy feel-good mechanisms that many people use in their life as a means of escape.
Going to a registered massage therapist is the way to receive a massage for your anxiety from a professional.
In another study by the East Carolina University School of Nursing published in 2000, 30-minute reflexology sessions were used as support treatment for cancer patients to minimize their anxiety.  Patients who received the massages reported significant decreases in their feelings of anxiety following the intervention.

As a means to help relieve anxiety, reflexology massages have shown to be very helpful as support treatment.  There are, however, an unknown number of people who enjoy its benefits in inducing physical relaxation and peace of mind. 

20 Comments to Tightness in Chest With Anxiety:

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Springdale Clinic on 14 May 2013 08:40
Anxiety is one of the most common disorders of psyche. Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the most important treatment for the anxiety disorder. This therapy will helps to think the positive thoughts.
Reply to comment
kaymcdonnell on 15 November 2013 08:58
Thank you for your comment. I titally agree.Recommend my clients very often to the benefits of Cognitive behavior therapy. Smiles Kay

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Thanks for sharing!
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kaymcdonnell on 15 November 2013 08:59
Thank you. You are welcome. Smiles Kay

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Kaymcdonnell on 15 November 2013 09:00
Thank you for your feed back. Smiles Kay

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kaymcdonnell on 15 November 2013 09:01
Thank you very much. Smiles kay

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Kaymcdonnell on 15 November 2013 09:02
Thank you very much for your kind words.Smiles Kay

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kaymcdonnell on 15 November 2013 09:03
Thank you. You are welcome Smiles Kay

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lethbridge massage therapy on 28 June 2014 15:26
Such a valuable blog it is! To be honest to say that I didn't know about the chest tightness because I thought that it's with hear attack. But to read this blog I knew clear idea that what it is and why this sort of problem can occur and also got effective instruction that how reflexology can reduce this problem. So overall this entire blog is absolutely perfect and everybody should read this carefully.
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