Heart fluttering and anxiety

Can Anxiety Cause Heart Palpitations? – Cleveland Clinic

When we feel anxious, our bodies respond in physical ways. Sweaty palms, shaking and an upset stomach can set in. And it’s not uncommon to feel a pounding or fluttering in your chest, also known as a heart palpitation.

Cardiac electrophysiologist John Bibawy, MD, explains why this happens and what to do if you notice palpitations when you’re anxious.

What are heart palpitations?

“When you’re resting, you usually don’t feel your heart beating,” says Dr. Bibawy. “When you can feel your heartbeat, you’re having palpitations. Sometimes they’re expected, like after exercising. But other times, palpitations hit without warning.”

You might feel palpitations in your chest, neck or throat, and they feel like your heart is:

  • Fluttering.
  • Pounding.
  • Racing.
  • Skipping.

Does anxiety cause heart palpitations?

Anxious feelings engage your body’s “fight-or-flight” response. Fight-or-flight triggers a series of events in your body, including the release of certain hormones. Experts believe this response was helpful in ancient civilizations when humans had to fight or run from threats to survive.

Today, your fight-or-flight response works the same as it always has. It just doesn’t know the difference between a grizzly bear attack or an upcoming work presentation. So those same hormones — like adrenaline — kick in to protect you.

“The fight-or-flight response speeds up your heart rate, so your body gets more blood flow,” explains Dr. Bibawy. “The increased blood flow gives you a burst of energy to fight or run from danger. That’s why many people notice palpitations when they’re scared, nervous or anxious — and it’s completely normal. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your heart.”

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When palpitations trigger anxiety

Fight-or-flight isn’t the only time heart rate and anxiety may overlap. Some people notice their heart speeding up or fluttering, which triggers fear or anxiety.

“People who have an arrhythmia — an abnormal heart rhythm — might experience sudden palpitations,” says Dr. Bibawy. “They understandably get nervous because they don’t know why these palpitations happen. The palpitations may cause anxiety, and anxiety causes more palpitations. This creates a cycle that’s hard to break.”

Is anxiety bad for your heart?

Nearly everyone experiences anxiety and stress at some time. A healthy heart can handle the heart racing with occasional anxiety and stress.

But if you have a heart condition like coronary artery disease or heart failure, work with a doctor to manage it. In these circumstances, anxiety and a fast heart rate can trigger chest pain.

“People with certain heart conditions may take prescription medications that keep their heart rate low,” says Dr. Bibawy. “The medications prevent a fast heart rate or palpitations if you get scared, for instance. If your heart condition is under control, then having occasional anxiety won’t be a problem.

Frequent anxiety is another story. Chronic stress and anxiety aren’t good for your heart — or your health in general — so don’t let it slide.

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“Untreated anxiety disorders can raise your blood pressure, lower your quality of sleep and interfere with your enjoyment of life,” says Dr. Bibawy. “See your healthcare provider if you frequently feel anxious or think you might have an anxiety or panic disorder. Treatments are available.”

How to stop palpitations from causing anxiety

Nearly everyone faces an anxiety-provoking situation at some point. Maybe you’re about to meet your future mother-in-law, or you have a performance evaluation at work. Whatever it is, there are some ways to help calm that fight-or-flight response and slow your heart rate:

  • Start with breathing: When your heart speeds up, your breathing will, too. But you can hijack this process by taking control of your breath. Take slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this at least 10 times, preferably for several minutes.
  • Focus your mind: When your heart is racing, your mind might follow. Try focusing on an image, phrase or sound that makes you feel peaceful. Keep taking your slow, deep breaths as you meditate on this one thing. Tip: Do this even when you’re not stressed to help with everyday well-being.
  • Take a walk: If you can, go for a short walk. Down the hall is good, but outdoors in nature is even better. Don’t make it too fast, or your heart won’t have a chance to slow down.
  • Hydrate: Dehydration can make palpitations worse. Have a glass of water — or if you’ve been exercising heavily, try a sports drink with electrolytes. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which can trigger more anxiety and palpitations.

Getting care for anxiety or palpitations

Nearly everyone experiences anxiety and a racing heart on occasion — it’s part of being human. But don’t ignore frequent anxiety or palpitations. Your doctor can help you discover the causes and provide treatment if needed.

Most of the time, palpitations are just a sign that your heart is temporarily working a little harder. But sometimes, palpitations can be a sign of a heart condition like an arrhythmia.

“If you’re having palpitations, mention it to your doctor,” says Dr. Bibawy. “A cardiologist can find out what’s causing the palpitations or rule out health conditions. And if your palpitations ever cause dizziness or fainting, see a doctor right away.”

Heart Palpitations: Anxiety or AFib?

Written by Angela Nelson

Your heart feels like it’s racing or skipping beats. There are many reasons that this can happen. You may have just gotten some good news and you’re excited. It could be that you’re about to start a new job and you’re nervous. Or maybe you drank too much coffee this morning and now you have caffeine jitters.

An irregular heartbeat may also be something more serious: a condition called atrial fibrillation, or AFib. AFib is a heart rhythm disorder, or arrhythmia, in which electrical signals in your heart don't travel the right way. It’s like a miscommunication that causes your heart’s two upper chambers (atria) to beat too fast.

AFib symptoms include:

  • A skipped heartbeat followed by a thump
  • Heart palpitations or a fluttering sensation
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and weakness

Those symptoms are much like what you might feel if you have anxiety. Either way, they can be scary, and you should call your doctor right away. The condition can start at any age.

How to Tell the Difference

How can you tell if you’re having AFib or an anxiety attack? It’s a good question. Studies show that stress and anxiety can worsen symptoms of AFib, but more research is needed to find out if people with anxiety and depression are at greater risk for developing it. Research also shows that people with AFib are more likely to get depression or anxiety because the condition affects your quality of life.


Your doctor will use a few tests to diagnose AFib and rule out anxiety.

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) records electrical activity in your heart. It’s a painless test that takes just a few minutes. You lie down and a nurse or technician places electrodes on your skin that measure electricity. If you have an episode of AFib at this time, the test will record it.

A heart monitor can detect less frequent irregular heartbeats. Your doctor may suggest you wear one for a few days to try to capture AFib episodes. It’s basically a small, portable EKG.

If your AFib incidents are few and far between, your doctor may suggest you wear an event monitor. An irregular heartbeat will activate the monitor to record the incident. Some activate themselves, and others you have to activate.

A stress test may help diagnose AFib if exercise triggers the condition. For this, your doctor may have you run on a treadmill while you wear a heart monitor.

A blood test can help rule out other causes for your symptoms, such as a thyroid problem.

A chest X-ray will help your doctor see the condition of your heart and lungs. An X-ray also can help rule out other conditions.

Sometimes AFib patients have no symptoms, so the issue goes undiagnosed. But it is treatable and, in some cases, curable. Left untreated, it can lead to heart failure and stroke.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

When you talk with your doctor, ask these questions if you think you may have anxiety or AFib.

If you suspect anxiety:

  • Could my anxiety be related to my physical health?
  • Should I see a mental health specialist?
  • Do I need counseling or medication?
  • What can I do at home to feel less anxious?
  • Are there foods or drinks I should avoid?

If you suspect AFib:

  • Which type of AFib might I have: paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent?
  • What’s the cause?
  • Are there foods or drinks I should avoid?
  • What kinds of activities or exercise are safe?
  • What activities or exercises should I avoid?
  • Do I need to have a procedure or surgery?
  • Do I need to take medication?
  • What are the next steps?

Anxiety, fear, palpitations.

Possibly autonomic dystonia

Autonomic dystonia (sometimes referred to as somatoform autonomic dysfunction) is a diagnosis that many have heard of, but not understood by everyone. Manifestations of vegetative dystonia are not unambiguous. The symptoms of each person suffering from this disease may be different. One experiences a rapid heartbeat, another an inexplicable anxiety, and a third difficulty breathing. The specialists of the Vivendi Medical Center talk about the main symptoms of the disease and the possibilities of its effective treatment. nine0003

Dystonia is a dysfunction, that is, a manifestation of body dysfunctions. The autonomic nervous system regulates the functions of internal organs and systems of the body, acting independently of human consciousness. If a person constantly experiences overloads, prolonged stresses, the body spends all resources to compensate for these overloads and stresses, which leads to deviations from the normal manifestation of emotions and violations of the physical functions of the body. If you have health problems, you should first of all contact your family doctor to make sure that the symptoms are not associated with a disease of any organs. To do this, you should do a cardiogram (to find out if there are any violations of cardiac activity, exclude the possibility of a heart attack), check the thyroid gland (to exclude its increased function that causes heart palpitations), do blood tests (check the content of calcium, magnesium and potassium, since the lack these substances can cause symptoms characteristic of autonomic dystonia). If all indicators are normal, you should contact a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. nine0003

Main symptoms of autonomic dystonia

Common symptoms of this disease are palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, shortness of breath, trembling, hiccups, coughing, bloating, abdominal gurgling, frequent diarrhea or frequent urination.

In some cases, there are pains in various parts of the body or organs, a feeling of heaviness or tension in the body. Symptoms may also be accompanied by feelings of anxiety, restlessness, helplessness, fear, and even panic attacks. nine0015

Symptoms may be caused by overwork. The body reacts to overwork in the following way: cardiac activity is activated, stress hormone is released into the blood in large quantities, the liver produces glycogen, which is then converted into glucose, providing the body with energy. Breathing in this state becomes rapid as the lungs require more oxygen, the muscles tense up in preparation for physical action if necessary, and perspiration increases to cool the body in case of physical action. nine0015


Psychotherapy is an effective method to reduce symptoms of autonomic dystonia. The psychiatrist or psychotherapist pays attention to the symptoms characteristic of each patient. Therefore, the methods of treatment may differ. Some patients will need medications, others the doctor will recommend relaxing exercises, help balance the daily routine, stabilize the psycho-emotional load.

The course of psychotherapy can last from several months to several years. The duration of treatment depends on the individual characteristics and life experience of the patient. In the process of treatment, the doctor studies the mechanism of manifestation of the disease and takes measures so that the symptoms become rarer and weaker, and finally disappear. In the event of a return of the disease, a person who has been helped by a psychotherapist to understand the mechanism of the onset of symptoms will be able to cope with them on his own. nine0015

Trust and mutual understanding between therapist and patient are essential. This is the key to successful treatment.

Rules to follow daily to get rid of autonomic dystonia

- Exercise regularly. Physical activity reduces internal tension, limits the amount of adrenaline and increases the amount of endorphin in the blood. Physical activity can be chosen depending on your physical condition and sports preferences. nine0015 - Remember to get enough sleep at night . Unbalanced sleep and wake times can destabilize the nervous system.
- Find time to relieve emotional stress. Go for walks in the fresh air, tea in a peaceful atmosphere, do relaxation exercises - do everything that calms and relaxes you.
- Participate in activities that stimulate creativity. Dancing, singing, going to the theater, listening to music and other similar activities will help get rid of the negative emotions accumulated during the day. nine0015

To assess your emotional state at a particular moment, take a psychological test. Vivendi Medical Center specialists invite you to seek help in a timely manner so that the treatment is most effective and requires less effort.

Anxiety and anxiety for no reason — Here and Now

In today's pace of life, we encounter a feeling of anxiety almost every day. It is a natural reaction of the body to a physical or psychological threat and helps to mobilize strength and attention, stimulates action, motivates to solve complex problems. nine0003

It is perfectly normal to feel anxious before an interview or exam, during a conflict with a loved one, or when an important project is missed. However, we must say goodbye to uncomfortable emotional states as easily as we meet them.

If anxiety is unreasonable, becomes constant or overwhelming, it can lead to exhaustion of the nervous system and the body, to a decrease in adaptation mechanisms and the development of psychosomatic diseases. Panic attacks are one of the clearest examples. Attacks in which a person is seized by an inexplicable all-consuming fear cannot be controlled and difficult to predict. Trying to avoid situations, events or places associated with panic attacks, a person sacrifices their comfort and social life. nine0003


The state of anxiety and restlessness without a cause is manifested by both mental and physical symptoms.

Mental symptoms

  • poor concentration and attention,
  • sleep disorders,
  • emotional lability, irritability, tearfulness,
  • inability to relax and fully engage in daily activities or communication. nine0070

    Physical symptoms

    • rapid breathing and palpitations,
    • headaches, abdominal and cardiac pains,
    • excessive sweating,
    • eating disorders: increased or loss of appetite,
    • weakness,
    • shivering, chills,
    • stool disorders: urgency, constipation,
    • breathlessness,
    • nausea,
    • muscle spasms and pains.

    Causes of unreasonable anxiety and worry

    The occurrence of an anxiety disorder can be associated with heredity, personality traits, health status, lifestyle and various types of addictions. In some cases, the cause of anxiety and anxiety are triggers - events or thoughts that trigger the corresponding emotional or behavioral reaction. It is far from always possible to track them, which is why it seems to many that their emotions have no logical explanation. In this case, an effective solution to the problem is to contact a specialist. nine0003

    Another cause of anxiety for no reason is chronic stress, a condition that affects most residents of megacities. The fast pace of life, excessive demands on oneself, tight schedules, competition, fuss, traffic jams, financial difficulties, etc. Staying in a state of neurotic disorder and dissatisfaction with oneself often becomes habitual. But it is one thing - stressful situations that arise from time to time, which are accompanied by anxiety and irritability, and disappear after the return of life to their usual track, and quite another - a constant stay in a state of stress, which is fraught with the occurrence of nervous diseases. The most common of these is generalized anxiety disorder. A characteristic symptom of the disease is a constant feeling of anxiety and anxiety for no apparent reason. nine0003

    GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) is a condition characterized by a persistent feeling of anxiety and restlessness without apparent reason. At the same time, in addition to constant mental stress, a person experiences the following physical sensations - all or several:

    • physical stress that does not pass,
    • increased sweating ("cold sweat", constantly wet palms),
    • heartbeat and rapid breathing,
    • headaches,
    • nausea,
    • feeling of "sucking in the pit of the stomach. "

    Also, a person can be haunted by fear of death or deterioration in health (of one's own or loved ones), various bad forebodings. A person suffering from anxiety neurosis has difficulty concentrating, he suffers from absent-mindedness, sleep and appetite disorders, and communication disorders.

    What to do with causeless anxiety and worry

    Living in a state of constant anxiety is painful. Therefore, some things in life need to be changed. nine0003

    • Find someone you can trust. Someone who won't discount your feelings. It can be a close person, friend, psychologist. People are social creatures, so communication is a good way to relieve internal tension.
    • Do not isolate yourself from your space, go out in a company, communicate, attend various events.
    • Learn to calm yourself down. Find the right method to help you relax: breathing practices, yoga, exercise, soothing music, aromatherapy, self-massage and more. If you cannot independently choose a technique that quickly helps with anxiety for no reason, a specialist will tell you what to do. nine0070
    • Physical activity should become a daily ritual. It is a natural and effective remedy for anxiety. Moderate exercise relieves stress, lowers stress hormones and strengthens the nervous system.
    • Review your daily routine. Get enough sleep, eat well, get rid of bad habits. This will improve the physical condition and normalize the level of neurotransmitters, which will allow you to maintain emotional balance.
    • nine0069 Keep a diary. This is a very useful habit to keep track of what causes unpleasant anxious feelings. Track the moment the alarm occurred and record what happened at that moment or before it. Notes help to understand what patterns there are in exacerbations of anxiety, to notice the earliest signs of their occurrence in order to stop them in time. Also note positive events that you may not have noticed before and focus on them.

    There is no single method for reducing anxiety and anxiety without a cause that would suit everyone equally, however, the techniques listed above are recommended for all people who want to cope with increased anxiety. For some, this is enough to get rid of anxiety. But if the listed self-help methods do not give the desired effect, and anxiety attacks occur again and again or do not go away at all, then what to do should be learned from a specialist. nine0003

    Treatment of unreasonable feelings of anxiety

    No matter what causes tension and anxiety, professional psychological help is the main full-fledged method of finding out the causes and completely getting rid of anxiety. If you are worried about frequent bouts of increased anxiety and the occurrence of anxiety for no reason, you can learn from a psychiatrist or psychologist how to get rid of this unpleasant condition effectively and reliably.

    Due to the fact that anxiety disorders have a different cause in each patient, their therapy must be adapted to each person individually. Therefore, it is better to seek help from a qualified specialist who has experience working with different types of anxiety conditions. nine0003

    In case of anxiety and anxiety without a cause, treatment includes the following methods:

    1. Psychotherapy . The most effective direction, which not only eliminates the symptom of anxiety and anxiety, but finds out the cause of its occurrence and eliminates it. A psychologist will teach you how to get rid of attacks of anxiety and anxiety for no reason, how to behave during panic attacks, relax, and look at life situations differently. A psychologist will help you find the true causes of your fears and work out the reasons themselves. The client will receive effective tools for dealing with anxiety and learn how to use them. In therapy, a person becomes familiar with what causes anxiety and learns to change his attitude to the situation, as a result of which he develops self-help skills and the understanding that he can cope with the situation. nine0003

    2. Drug therapy . The appointment of a specialist directly depends on the type of anxiety disorder and comorbidities. The most commonly used are tranquilizers, antidepressants, sedatives, sleeping pills, etc. Properly selected drugs contribute to the rapid improvement of the patient's condition, reducing the manifestation of symptoms and improving his quality of life. At the same time, it is important to understand that uncontrolled use of drugs with anxiety for no reason can lead to unwanted side effects and withdrawal syndrome. nine0003

    Since anxiety disorders have a different cause in each patient, it is important to take an individual approach to the choice of therapy. In some cases, one psychotherapy is sufficient, in others a combination of psychotherapeutic and drug treatment is recommended. One way or another, no one will do it better than a specialist with experience in working with various types of anxiety conditions.

    Do not delay a visit to a specialist if you feel that disturbing experiences bring a lot of inconvenience and even interfere with a fulfilling life. Not only will the symptoms only get worse over time, but other mental conditions will also join: neurotic disorders, depression, and even panic attacks, and so on.

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