How to Stop Heart Palpitations Caused by Anxiety

Heart palpitations caused by anxiety make you feel like your heart is racing. This feeling is a product of the fight, flight, or freeze response, in which your body reacts to protect you from danger. Heart palpitations caused by anxiety are not usually dangerous, but they can increase your anxiety and lead to other complications.

This article discusses various medical and non-medical ways to stop anxiety-induced heart palpitations.

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What to know about palpitations

Normal heart rate range is 60 to 100 beats per minute. When it increases above 100, you may feel it jump or notice a thumping or jumping sensation. Generally speaking, heart palpitations caused by anxiety are temporary and rare, but they can last longer or occur with a panic attack or be more severe.

How to Slow and Stop Heart Palpitations Caused by Anxiety

If your heart palpitations are caused by anxiety and not something else, the best way to control your heart palpitations is to address the underlying cause: anxiety. If you’re experiencing heart palpitations due to anxiety, here are some tips you can try now to manage your symptoms.

focus on your breathing


Mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing can help relieve anxiety and stabilize your heart rate. Anxiety will creep up on you gradually, and you may be able to ignore it until it starts to affect your body.

Heart palpitations may be a sign that your anxiety is spreading from your mood and emotions to your bodily functions. Try slowing down your breathing, meditating, or sitting in a quiet place for a few minutes to calm your mind and body.

exercise

Being active and moving isn’t just good for your body. Physical activity supports heart health and helps prevent the underlying causes of heart palpitations, but it also releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals your body produces to help you cope with stressful situations, and exercise releases these chemicals quickly.

Use your body’s “cheat codes”

There are some moves you can try to help your body compensate for the emotional or physical stress you’re experiencing. When you feel anxious, your body physically reacts by initiating a fight or flight response, which you may notice causes heart palpitations.

The vagus nerve acts as a pacemaker for the heart, as well as for specific activities such as pressing down as if to have a bowel movement, and Valsalva maneuver Sometimes used to immediately control high or irregular heart rates.

eat or drink

Eating or drinking is a simple, basic task. But stop for a snack or a drink and your body will take care of itself. The act of swallowing requires you to slow down your breathing, and this concentration can help calm your heart palpitations.

Request for help

If your palpitations progress to the point where you feel dizzy or light-headed, seek help. Anxiety can be a cause of heart palpitations, but there are also physical reasons why this may occur. If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, or loss of consciousness, seek medical attention immediately.

Asking for help again

If you’ve ruled out underlying physical causes and your palpitations persist even after strategies like meditation and refocusing, you may want to consider additional support. Talking with a therapist or licensed counselor can help you address some of the roots of your anxiety and learn to manage it effectively to avoid physical manifestations of these emotions.

Consider medication

If, after trying some behavioral strategies, anxiety still causes you to feel unwell, you may want to talk to your healthcare provider about medication to treat your anxiety.

While the activities and techniques discussed above can help provide immediate relief without medical assistance, if you experience persistent heart palpitations and anxiety, it is important to speak with a health care provider for ongoing treatment and support.

Control stress and anxiety without medication

Approximately seven million adults suffer from an anxiety disorder at any given time, and there are a variety of treatments.

How you manage your anxiety may have something to do with how much it affects your quality of life. For some people, regular non-drug treatments can help manage anxiety and related symptoms.

Some strategies that can help you manage anxiety without medications include:

  • Mindfulness and meditation activities
  • Yoga and other relaxation exercises
  • Breathing exercises to support deep breathing
  • Cognitive or behavioral therapy with a licensed counselor or therapist
  • Support a group of colleagues who share your challenges

Medications for Anxiety

If non-medical strategies to control anxiety don’t work and you continue to experience anxiety symptoms such as heart palpitations, talk to a health care provider. They can give you medication to help you manage your anxiety.

There are many types of medications to treat anxiety, and each medication has benefits and side effects.
Everyone reacts differently to medications. Finding the treatment that works for you may require trial and error or a combination of medications.

Some examples of anti-anxiety medications to discuss with your healthcare provider include:

Many of these medications take some time to have their full effect. They must start and stop gradually. Use these medications only as directed by your healthcare provider.

Anxiety, your thoughts, and your body

Your physical and mental health are closely connected and often dependent on each other. It’s important to remember that anxiety can take a toll on your emotional and physical health.

Heart rate changes and palpitations are just some of the physical symptoms that may occur with anxiety. Be aware of any stressors that may accompany your physical symptoms and ways you can address them in your daily life.

Meditation, deep breathing, and other holistic activities can help. Healthcare providers can also refer you to a therapist or prescribe medications for additional support.

generalize

Some people with anxiety disorders experience physical symptoms such as heart palpitations. These palpitations usually do not require direct treatment, but can be managed indirectly by managing stress and anxiety.

If non-drug treatments do not relieve your symptoms, talk to a health care provider; if you experience heart palpitations along with symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest pain, seek immediate medical care.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed research, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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By Rachael Zimlich, BSN, RN

Rachael is a freelance healthcare writer and critical care nurse practitioner near Cleveland, Ohio.

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