I am 24 and have recently been suffering from what I believe is anxiety. What scares me the most is the racing heart symptoms. Is this normal?
Yes, people with anxiety commonly experience palpitations, which are sensations of the heart racing, skipping or pounding. They may also experience abdominal queasiness, faintness, unsteadiness, sweating, and other symptoms that lead them to feel like they are deathly ill, which increases anxiety and symptoms in a vicious cycle.
In the cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic disorder, an important element of treatment is the understanding that though the symptoms feel scary, they do not, and will not, lead to any calamity. In that way, the vicious cycle of mounting anxiety can be moderated.
That said, it’s well to remember that things are not always as they seem. That is, “racing heart” symptoms associated with anxiety can occur in other conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (a condition of sudden bursts of rapid heartbeats) and others.
Before a primary diagnosis of anxiety and a regimen of reassurance — and possible drug treatment — can be adopted, other conditions have to be ruled out. A medical evaluation is a good idea, especially in an older person, but even in a 24-year-old.