From the US: Back around April/May I was having chest pains for a couple weeks. When I asked my doctor about it, he told me that I had gastroenteritis and said that it was probably caused by a warm weather virus with the changing season or by exercise and that it was nothing to worry about. I was also told that being stressed could make it worse. I have generalized anxiety disorder, so being stressed is just part of my life. It was the first time I had ever seen this doctor so he did not know much about me. I did not mention to him that I have anxiety because I did not think that I needed to and I don’t like to tell people about it.
Since the first time I had this issue with my chest I have noticed that when my anxiety gets bad the chest pain comes back. The pain feels the same as the first time I got it, so I’m assuming that it is just the same thing. I never used to get chest pains from anxiety though, sometimes I get headaches when I’m really stressed, but there have never been any other physical symptoms. I’m not anxious all the time, but under certain situations I can easily become very stressed and overwhelmed and it is during these times when the chest pain is happening. Thinking about this, I was just wondering if maybe the chest pain could related to my anxiety?
A: It could be, but the only way to know for sure is by going back to your doctor and having further tests. The kind of pain you describe is sometimes caused by a virus, sometimes acid reflux, sometimes by a hiatal hernia, sometimes by eating certain foods, sometimes by anxiety. That’s only a few reasons that people have sharp stomach pain. Before you decide it’s your anxiety that is causing you trouble, you want to be sure that you don’t have an undiagnosed medical problem that could be cleared up with either some medication or lifestyle changes.
Please see a Gastroenterologist. That’s a doctor who specializes in the stomach and intestinal tract. And please do share that you have anxiety. A doctor can only help if he or she has all the relevant information. If there is no medical diagnosis, then you might want to see a mental health counselor about how to handle your anxiety so you don’t express it through body pain.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Aug 2014
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). Anxiety and Gastroenteritis. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/06/anxiety-and-gastroenteritis/