Anxiety tachycardia: how to avoid it

Anxiety is a human reaction that affects mind and body. Although anxiety appeared in our ancestors as a defense and survival mechanism, since it is an alarm system that is activated in the face of danger, nowadays, when we talk about anxiety, we refer to a series of maladaptive symptoms that generate discomfort, as is the case with anxiety tachycardia we tell you how to recognize this tachycardia, how to avoid it and what you can do to make it disappear. Pay attention!

The most common symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety appears for multiple causes (dysfunctional thoughts, prolonged stress, coping strategies that are not very adaptive, biological predisposition…) symptoms are of three types. Here are some examples of each of them:

  • Subjective-cognitive symptoms: alarm, worry, apprehension, restlessness, obsessions, intrusive thoughts, negative emotional experience (equivalent to), etc.
  • Behavioral symptoms: responses that are observed in the person, especially the escape response and the flight response.
  • Physiological symptoms: they involve the activation of the autonomic nervous system, which leads to sweating, pupillary dilation, tachycardia, etc.

As we can see, anxiety is a physiological symptom that appears in a state of anxiety, or in different anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobias, panic disorder…)

When we suffer from anxiety, our physiological system is hyper activated, and this causes us to frequently manifest tachycardia, which is acceleration in the rhythm or heart rate. We are now going to see in more detail what anxiety tachycardia consists of.

What is anxiety tachycardia?

Tachycardia is one of the most common heart (arrhythmias), involving an abnormally fast resting heartbeat. When we talk about a state of rest, we refer to a situation of tranquility or calm (for example, sitting or standing, but without making too much effort).  Actually, we find three types of arrhythmias, including tachycardia:

  • Tachycardia: the heart beats excessively fast.
  • Bradycardia: the heart beats excessively slowly.
  • Heartbeat disturbances, which beats irregularly.

Anxiety tachycardia is the acceleration of the heart rate derived from anxiety itself.  With heart rate we refer to the number of times our heart beats per minute. A normal heart rate in adults, and at rest, ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

When it exceeds 100 beats per minute, then we can talk about tachycardia; the higher the heart rate, the more severe the tachycardia. In anxiety tachycardia, the heart beats faster, and it can do so in the upper chambers, in the lower chambers, or in both.

How to recognize anxiety tachycardia?

Anxiety tachycardia is easily recognized if we look at our heart rhythm. Thus, we must be attentive to our heartbeat, and identify if it is going at a faster rate than normal.  Some people detect tachycardia by feeling an incessant pounding in the chest. We can also try placing our hand on it (above the heart), to make it easier to notice that accelerated pounding.

Anxiety tachycardia, we physically feel anxious, agitated or nervous. At a mental level, our thoughts can also appear accelerated, uncontrolled or disconnected (it’s like feeling that “our head doesn’t stop”).

Finally, we must also pay attention to; many times, when we suffer from tachycardia, it is also accelerated. To detect all these symptoms, we must be calm in a space without noise and become aware of our body, although when the symptoms are very evident, and with practice, we can detect them in noisy or more everyday situations.

Ways to relieve anxiety tachycardia

Fighting tachycardia due to anxiety is possible if we have the right tools and help for it. To face it and alleviate it, we must go to the root of the problem, which in this case is anxiety. It is of little use to if the root problem, the cause of this symptom, is not solved.

By relieving anxiety, we can begin to alleviate the tachycardia derived from it, as well as the other symptoms that arise from it and that cause us physical and psychological discomfort. To achieve this, it will be important to reduce the person’s activation levels, which in anxiety are very high.

In these cases, techniques such as breathing and relaxation can be highly effective.  However, working on the person’s emotions and beliefs will also be important to alleviate anxiety tachycardia, and this can be worked on with the, as we will see below. Without further ado, we leave you with some key ideas to start working on anxiety, which can also help alleviate the tachycardia that arises from it:

Practice deep breathing

Techniques are techniques based on the control of activation, and they are very beneficial for anxiety. The so-called deep breath is one that helps us become aware of the act of breathing. We know that breathing and heart rate are physiological functions that are linked.

That is, if we learn to control our breathing, to make it deeper and more conscious, we can reduce our accelerated heart rate. Deep breathing involves taking deep, slow, progressive inhalations and exhalations.

There are different variants breathing techniques, although one of the most used is the one that includes: a deep inhalation, which we will carry out in a few seconds (5 or 6), and a slow exhalation, which implies releasing the air also in 5 or 6 seconds. Afterwards, we will repeat the cycle 2 or 3 times (depending on the context and practice).

Practice relaxation

Another of the activation-based techniques that help reduce anxiety (and therefore also anxiety tachycardia) is relaxation. There are multiple variants and exercises of relaxation techniques.

For example, Jacobson’s, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle, groups, progressively. They usually use between 5 and 10 seconds to apply tension to each muscle group, and after this tension, distension is applied to the specific area, for three times as many seconds as in tension exercises.

Within Jacobson’s progressive muscle we find different variants of it:

  • Differential relaxation: involves keeping the muscles related to an activity active and relaxing the rest.
  • Conditioned relaxation: consists of associating sensations of relaxation with the evocation of a word or image.
  • Passive relaxation: it does not involve tension exercises, only sensations of heaviness and heat together with breathing exercises.

Ask for professional help (psychological and/or medical) to combat tachycardia due to anxiety

Beyond applying activation control techniques, which can be very useful in symptoms (or disorders) such as anxiety, asking for help will also be essential in these cases.  Starting a psychotherapeutic process can help us identify the causes of this anxiety and reduce our levels of activation.

Psychological therapy

From cognitive therapy, for example, the patient is helped to identify irrational or dysfunctional beliefs or thoughts that are causing the appearance of negative emotions. In anxiety, many times, these thoughts are oriented to the future; that, the person is constantly venturing, fears the worst, and anxiety appears as a result.

On the other hand, there are also often negative thoughts or beliefs about things that we cannot control, and that causes anxiety. With a psychologist you can manage all these symptoms.

Drug therapy

Finally, if our case requires it, a medical professional can accompany us in this process; in this sense, anxiolytic drugs that reduce the person’s activation levels are usually prescribed.

Multidisciplinary treatment

However, a multidisciplinary treatment that includes a psychological and psychiatric approach is always recommended, since drugs can help in the short term, but psychological therapy is what manages to promote much deeper and lasting changes in the person.

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