Maybe you’ve felt it before. A racing heart accompanied by chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, or maybe even indigestion or dizziness. Whatever symptoms you’ve identified, there is a stark difference between a heart attack and a panic attack.
How can you tell though? How does caring for your mental health eliminate this scary symptom altogether?
There are solutions to this problem, even if it may not feel like there are. Read on to learn more.
Be proactive in addressing your early warning signals.
What Is the Difference Between Anxiety Symptoms Verses a Real Heart Attack?
Now, if you think you could be having a heart attack, you should immediately call your doctor or get to an emergency room. If it’s not an emergency situation, then read on to get a better understanding of the different symptoms you would have with a heart attack verses stress from overwhelm. The first thing to learn is the differences between anxiety chest pain and heart attack chest pain.
Symptoms of a heart attack:
- Squeezing pain or pressure in the chest
- Sudden onset of symptoms or onset after physical exertion (like climbing the stairs)
- Pain radiating to the arm, jaw, or shoulder blades
- Pain worsening over time
- Symptoms lasting longer than 20-30 minutes
Symptoms of a panic attack:
- Sharp, stabbing pain in the center of your chest
- Sudden onset of symptoms, or sudden onset while under extreme stress
- Tingling in the hands
- Pain getting better over time
- Symptoms resolving within 20-30 minutes
- Increased heart rate
As you’ll soon be able to see, you’re either experiencing one or the other. However, if you can’t differentiate between the two, it is best to get yourself to the emergency room to see a doctor.
Check out this brief survey to help you uncover the underlying reasons for your chest pain.
Do You Know What’s Causing Your Chest Pain?
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to figure out what is causing your chest pain. If it was a heart attack, then your doctor is going to work with you on a health plan to put in place. If it was a panic attack, then there are other avenues that you can travel down.
Some potential causes for your chest pain may include excess weight, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, substance abuse, relationship problems, or even stress.
The tricky thing about stress is that it can lead to heart attacks. Constant stress has been linked to higher levels of cortisol.
High levels of this stress hormone have been linked to increased blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and high blood pressure. All these things are common risk factors for heart disease.
If you cope with stress by eating processed foods or resting for long periods of time, that can also lead to clogged arteries, which can ultimately lead to coronary artery disease.
All these things can also contribute to your mental health, stress levels, and overall anxiety levels. Doctors have recommended that those with a panic disorder keep an eye on their long-term heart health.
Lower your stress by visualizing what you want instead of what you do not want. Just 5 minutes a day can work wonders!
Are There Work and Life Perspectives You Can Shift to Improve Your Anxiety Symptoms?
Stress hormones can wreak havoc on our bodies, both physically and mentally. So what can you do to start changing that?
Whether you find that your stress stems from everyday life or from work, you have to ask yourself if there are perspectives you can work to shift. The biggest decision you can make is to begin working on your overall lifestyle and how it’s been affecting your stress levels.
Do you find yourself bringing work home? Can you communicate effectively with your boss or coworkers? How do you react when you’re interrupted in a meeting?
There are programs that can help you to shift your perspective when it comes to working. We’ve seen that carrying stress can affect your heart muscles, but what about the crucial relationships you’ve worked to develop with your colleagues?
If there is something going on at home, then it’s important to communicate that to your boss or manager so they can possibly help you come to a solution. If you’ve tried that and it still isn’t working, then it might be time to turn to a professional while also considering other changes you can make to your lifestyle.
The most important thing to ask yourself is whether or not you’re ready to do the things you need to do to shift your perspective once and for all.
Talking through your situation with a professional can help you learn to manage your chest pain from stress.
Do You Know the Risk Factors that Create Your Anxiety?
If you’re not ready to shift your perspective or maybe need other help to reach that point, there are other steps you can take. Maybe you’ve noticed the behaviors we just talked about, but can’t figure out where they may be coming from.
This is going to require some deep thinking on your part, and possibly a journal. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Is there someone tied to where the stress is coming from?
- Are there other external factors tied to where this stress is coming from?
- Is the stress coming from an internal source?
- What expectations do you set for yourself on a daily basis?
- Do you think those expectations are realistic?
- What might happen if you expected less from yourself and maybe from others?
- What have you been trying to control?
- Are you finding that these things are often out of your control?
- What can you control, at work or at home?
After spending some time responding to these questions, you will have good ideas that can help you work through your stress. Now, physical activity, like deep breathing or yoga, can help regulate heart rhythms. If you have a lot of energy, you can also try running or playing sports to combat that feeling.
To decrease the number of anxiety attacks you have and other risk factors you have in your life, change needs to happen. Whether you find that it’s drastic or minimal, there are steps you can take to get there.
Help is just a phone call or Zoom session away.
Help for Mental Health Concerns
Whether you have a panic disorder or are experiencing other anxiety symptoms, the important thing to remember about mental health is that help is always available. If you’re in a crisis, you can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 911 for immediate help.
If you’re not in a crisis, but would still like to make a change, Intellistress is here to help.
Our stress coaches can help you identify your work and life stressors and come up with solutions tailored to your personal goals. Contact us to sign up for a complimentary stress evaluation today.