Published On By Rachel Nall

Heart Palpitations & AnxietyHeart palpitations triggered by anxiety manifest as sensations of racing, fluttering, pounding, or skipped heartbeats. They are often in response to stressful stimuli or as a feature of an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive worry.

Anxiety could activate the body's fight or flight response, potentially leading to heart palpitations. Most anxiety-induced heart palpitations are not dangerous and may subside once the triggering situation resolves.

Can mental health worsen heart palpitations? Understanding the connection between anxiety and heart palpitations is essential, as recurrent palpitations due to anxiety disorders require a complete evaluation of the medical history or other underlying causes of irregular heartbeat.

Anxiety Heart Palpitations

Anxiety-induced heart palpitations may coincide with feelings of unsettling heart rhythms. This correlation is triggered by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) during heightened stress or unease periods.

These heart rhythm changes could occur by adrenaline and noradrenaline stress hormones, which help the body respond to perceived threats.

People experiencing heart palpitations in conjunction with anxiety may feel their heart beating prominently in the chest, neck, or throat. These pulses are short-lived and tend to subside once the triggering factors dissipate.

However, it is essential to remain vigilant for accompanying symptoms that might indicate underlying health issues, such as arrhythmia.

Causes Of Heart Palpitations From Anxiety

Here are four reasons why anxiety causes heart palpitations:

  1. Increased Sympathetic Activity: Anxiety triggers the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, releasing catecholamines that may stimulate the heart, causing it to beat faster and stronger.
  2. Decreased Parasympathetic Activity: The parasympathetic branch, responsible for calming the body down, is inhibited during anxiety, further contributing to increased heart rate and irregularities.
  3. Sensitization of the Heart: Chronic anxiety may sensitize the heart to respond more strongly to adrenaline, making palpitations more likely even in less stressful situations.
  4. Perception and Focus: Anxiety may heighten one's awareness of bodily sensations, making normal heartbeats feel more pronounced or irregular, leading to a focus on the heartbeat itself, further worsening the sensation.

Symptoms Of Heart Palpitations And Anxiety

Symptoms of heart palpitations may manifest as sensations of fluttering, erratic heartbeat, or pounding within the chest. These sensations could be alarming but often begin when associated with anxiety.

Here is a breakdown of the symptoms commonly experienced:

Symptom Description
Fluttering A sensation of flapping or fluttering in the chest is often described as the heart flipping.
Irregular heartbeat Feeling like the heart skips a beat or beats out of rhythm. It may speed up, slow down, or pause momentarily.
Pounding The heart beats forcefully or strongly, with some people reporting feeling heartbeats in their ears.

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Diagnose Procedure Of Heart Palpitations From Anxiety

Here is how healthcare providers typically diagnose heart palpitations related to anxiety:

  1. Medical History and Symptom Assessment: Healthcare providers inquire about the current medications, diet, lifestyle habits (including alcohol and caffeine intake), and any existing medical conditions. They will also explore the nature and frequency of the heart palpitations and any associated symptoms.
  2. Physical Examination: Providers will listen to the heart for abnormal sounds like murmurs. They will also check for other physical signs indicating underlying health issues contributing to the palpitations.
  3. Blood Tests: A complete blood count (CBC) may be recommended to assess for conditions such as anemia or electrolyte imbalances causing the palpitations. Thyroid function tests may also be conducted to rule out thyroid disorders.
  4. Additional Testing: A chest X-ray, echocardiogram, or Holter monitoring may be ordered to evaluate heart function and rhythm completely.

Treatment For Heart Palpitations From Anxiety

If you have been diagnosed with heart palpitations caused by anxiety, your doctor may suggest the following treatments:

  • Relaxation Techniques: Complementary health treatments such as biofeedback and massage therapy could assist in relaxation.
  • Anti-Anxiety Medications And Antidepressants: Beta-blockers like propranolol and benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax®) and diazepam (Valium®), may be prescribed to manage anxiety. However, benzodiazepines should only be used occasionally due to their habit-forming nature.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Psychotherapy options like cognitive behavioral therapy could help identify and address negative thought patterns.
  • Exposure Therapy: Exposure-response prevention might alleviate anxiety by creating positive responses to fears.

Strategies To Manage Stress & Anxiety

Effectively managing stress and anxiety associated with heart palpitations requires implementing self-management techniques.

  1. Coping with stress: Engaging in stress-relief activities such as mindfulness techniques, hobbies, or spending time in nature could help reduce overall stress levels, thereby potentially decreasing anxiety-induced heart palpitations.
  2. Diaphragmatic breathing: Practicing deep breathing exercises could promote relaxation and calmness, which may be beneficial in managing anxiety and mitigating the impact of heart palpitations.
  3. Exercise regularly: Physical activity may boost mood, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. It could be a valuable tool in managing anxiety and potentially reducing the frequency of heart palpitations.
  4. Getting enough sleep: Adequate rest could help cope with anxiety and maintain heart health by reducing the likelihood of palpitations due to fatigue or sleep deprivation.

Duration Of Heart Palpitations Anxiety

Heart palpitations stemming from anxiety may appear for a brief duration, often resolving within a few minutes. These palpitations may start suddenly and end quickly, causing a sensation of pounding, fluttering, racing, or skipped heartbeats.

The following table illustrates the typical duration of these episodes:

Duration Description Treatment
Few minutes Sudden onset, quick resolution Relaxation techniques
Occasional Intermittent episodes during anxious periods Cognitive behavioral therapy
Short-lived Typically transient, lasting for brief periods Medications if necessary
Recurrent May happen repeatedly in individuals with anxiety Address underlying anxiety
Manageable Often responsive to stress management strategies Lifestyle changes

Health Concern With Heart Palpitations From Anxiety

Most heart palpitations induced by anxiety may not be dangerous and tend to dissipate once the triggering situation resolves.

However, there are instances where they could signal a more serious underlying issue, such as arrhythmia and abnormal heart rhythm.

If you experience heart palpitations accompanied by chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or confusion, seeking immediate medical attention is important.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can Certain Medications for Anxiety Worsen Heart Palpitations?
    Certain medications, including SSRIs like desvenlafaxine, duloxetine, and venlafaxine, can potentially exacerbate heart palpitations. Adjustments in these medication types or dosages are necessary for optimal management.
  2. Are There Any Specific Foods or Drinks That CouldTrigger Heart Palpitations in People With Anxiety?
    Certain drinks and foods like caffeine, alcohol, and high-sugar items could trigger heart palpitations in people with anxiety. Understanding these triggers and moderating consumption may help manage heart palpitations associated with anxiety.
  3. Can Hormonal Changes Contribute to Heart Palpitations in People With Anxiety?
    The hormonal changes could contribute to heart palpitations in people. Intense emotions and panic attacks could increase heartbeat. Chills and sweating could follow it.
  4. Is There a Connection Between Past Trauma and Heart Palpitations in Response to Anxiety?
    Research suggests that unresolved trauma may contribute to heightened physiological responses, potentially leading to heart rhythm irregularities.


Heart palpitations are a common symptom of anxiety and are triggered by stressful situations. These palpitations are usually harmless, but it's important to rule out any underlying health conditions that might be causing them.

Recognizing the symptoms and seeking an appropriate diagnosis from a doctor is necessary. The doctor could conduct a physical examination, blood tests, and additional testing to diagnose heart palpitations accurately.

However, people may manage stress by implementing effective treatment strategies, such as mindfulness, exercise, and deep breathing exercises. These techniques may help them address the impact of stress and anxiety on their heart health.

  • The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
  • It is not recommended to disregard/delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of what you read or accessed through this article.
  • The results may vary from individual to individual.
  • It is recommended to consult your doctor for any underlying medical conditions or if you are on any prescribed medicines before trying any tips or strategies.

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