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Tight Throat Feeling Anxiety Symptoms

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: November 1, 2020


Tight throat feeling anxiety symptom description:

This feeling is often described as:

  • Feeling like your throat muscles are tight.
  • Feeling like you have a tight band around your throat.
  • Feeling like you have a lump or tightness in your throat.
  • Constant lump in the throat feeling.
  • A tight throat feeling that comes and goes.
  • Anxiety throat tension and tenderness.
  • Throat pressure.
  • A tightness in the throat thyroid area.
  • Feels like there is something tied around the throat.
  • Globus Hystericus.
  • Globus anxiety.
  • Feel there is something blocking the throat or airway.

You feel you have a tightness or tension in the throat area even though there isn’t a real reason for it. Sometimes this tension and pressure causes you to feel you have to swallow frequently in an attempt to clear or loosen your throat.

This tight throat feeling can occur rarely, frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel a tight throat once in a while and not that often, feel it off and on fairly regularly, or have a tight throat all the time.

This feeling may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

This tight throat feeling can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

This tight throat feeling can range in intensity from barely noticeable, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and barely noticeable the next.

This tight feeling can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.


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What causes an anxiety tight throat feeling?

Medical Advisory

Can anxiety cause a constant tight throat feeling? Yes!

Being anxious (nervous, concerned, worried) activates the body’s stress response. The stress response causes immediate physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body to enhance its ability to deal with a perceived threat—to either fight with or flee from it. This is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.[1][2]

Stress responses cause the body’s muscles to tighten so that they are more resilient to damage. This muscle tightening effect can affect any muscle and/or group of muscles in the body, including the muscles in the throat that help you swallow. A tight throat sensation is an example of how the throat can feel when the throat muscles are tightened due to being anxious.

So, being anxious can cause a ‘tight throat feeling.’ Many people who are nervous or anxious experience this feeling (it’s often referred to as having a ‘lump in the throat’ feeling). When you are anxious, this is part of the stress response experience. Therefore, it needn’t be a cause for concern. It’s normal. Most people experience this to a certain degree when anxious or stressed.

Chronic stress, which we call hyperstimulation, can also cause stress response related sensations and symptoms,[3] including having a tight throat. If you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, this could be the very reason you are experiencing a persistent tight throat.

Even though chronic stress may be causing this feeling, it still isn’t a reason for concern. Stress symptoms are harmless, but they are telling you your body is overly stressed.

Tight throat feeling anxiety treatment.

When behaving anxiously causes a tight throat feeling, calming yourself down will bring an end to the stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, this feeling should disappear as your body calms down.

Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to calm down after a major stress response has been triggered. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When a tight throat feeling is caused by persistently elevated stress, it may take a lot more time for the body to calm down and recover from the negative effects of stress, and to the point where this feeling completely subsides.

Reducing your body’s stress and giving your body ample time to return to normal, non-hyperstimulated health should cause this feeling to subside in time. Therefore, this symptom needn’t be a cause for concern even though it is being caused by stress.

Sure, this feeling can be unsettling. But it’s not serious or causing your body harm. It also won’t get so serious that you can’t eat or breathe. Stress in itself can’t do that. This tight throat feeling will disappear when your body’s stress has returned to a healthy level.

You can help alleviate this tight throat feeling by relaxing your throat muscles. Gentle throat massage, rolling your neck to release tight muscles, relaxing, relaxing in a warm bath, and light to moderate exercise, for example, can all help eliminate muscle tension symptoms, including this one.

Worrying about this symptom, however, is the worst thing you can do, since worry (behaving anxiously) causes stress responses and is, therefore, counterproductive to stress reduction and anxiety sensation and symptom elimination.

If you are having difficulty containing your worry, you might want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced therapist is the most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder and what seems like unmanageable worry and anxiety.


 



The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Disorder Symptoms section.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including the anxiety symptom having a tight throat feeling.


REFERENCES:

1. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

2. Folk, Jim and Folk, Marilyn. “The Stress Response And Anxiety Symptoms.” anxietycentre.com, August 2019.

3. Folk, Jim and Folk, Marilyn. "Stress-response Hyperstimulation." anxietycentre.com, Nov. 2019.