Throat feels tight anxiety

Written by Dr.Bayat
Associate Professor of Orthopedic expert,Brigham Hostpital


At times when your throat feels tight anxiety can be a cause. Medically, this condition where anxiety causes your throat to feel tight is called Globus Hystericus. It is classified as a conversion disorder.

 Conversion disorders are disorders where you experience physical symptoms like throat feels tight, blindness, and other serious symptoms. There is no physical cause present for these symptoms. Anxiety can cause you to feel like your throat feels tight. Along with tightness of throat, you may feel many other symptoms. You might feel like:

  • Your throat feels tight.
  • There is something stuck in your throat.
  • It is difficult for you to consume food or swallow it, or what is medically known as dysphagia.
  • Your throat or neck starts to pain.
  • You cannot talk.

These symptoms, even though, might occur because of some medical reasons as well, but in this article, we will discuss about anxiety and throat tightness because of it.



What is anxiety?

It is normal for your body to respond to stressful situations, be it an exam, or something big. But there are times when your body exaggerates the reaction, and we are left with a number of symptoms.

Everyone faces anxiety at some point, but there are some who face anxiety more often, or it might never go away. This puts you in a very difficult situation.

Some symptoms of anxiety disorder are:

  • Uncontrollable worrying about daily situations no matter how small they are. This worrying usually interferes with your daily chores.
  • You will feel bouts of attacks where you are agitated, your heart starts to pound, you sweat a lot, your mouth gets dry.
  • Restlessness can be felt in anxiety attacks, and whenever you feel like you are anxious.
  • You will feel like you are always running low on energy.
  • No matter how hard you try, you would not able to concentrate well on things.
  • Even little and unimportant things may irritate you whenever you are anxious.
  • Your muscles might feel tense. In such case if your throat feels tight anxiety can be the cause of it.
  • You might not be able to sleep well, or you might sleep a lot more than you usually would.
  • You will find it easier to avoid social gatherings, and all the things where you have to deal with people.


Why does anxiety cause throat tightness?

There are many reasons why when your throat feels tight anxiety can be thought to be the cause. When a person is anxious, it makes your stomach produce a lot more acid than it normally should. In view of excess acid, some of it might come up in your esophagus (generally known as the food pipe) and your throat feels tight.

Another reason how anxiety causes throat tightness is because when you are anxious your body releases cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Coughing.
  • Tense muscles.
  • Rapid breathing or hyperventilation.

This can lead to tight and sore throat. Anxiety can also cause your voice to change, called dysphonia. This is because muscles that control your voice tense up, it causes your voice to change. Along with that it can also cause dysphagia which, in simpler term means, difficulty while swallowing. Or if you already have dysphagia, or a feeling of having a lump in your throat, having anxiety can make these conditions worse.


What other reasons can cause throat tightness?

When your throat feels tight anxiety is not always the only cause. There are many other reasons why your throat feels tight.

Some of the reasons are:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD):

 It is a condition where acid from stomach comes up to your food pipe or esophagus. This causes a burning sensation in your chest area, which is known as heartburn. Along with chest burning sensation, it may also cause throat tightness.


Sometimes your thyroid gland enlarges abnormally, and it forms a visible lump in your throat. Goiter can give many symptoms including swelling in neck, your throat feels tight, cough, dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing, or breathing difficulties.

Muscle tension dysphonia:

It is a common voice disorder. Cause of this disorder is muscle tension of the muscles that are responsible for you body to produce voice. Symptoms of this condition include hoarseness, throat feels tight, painful neck to touch, globus feeling or feeling like there is a lump in your throat.


If you are allergic to many things, seasons, or foods, you may find yourself in a situation where you throat feels tight, your nose and eyes itch, and your eyes start to water.


Certain infections that affect throat particularly will cause a situation where your throat feels tight.

Some other symptoms where you might know you have an infection include fever, swallowing difficulty, or even head ache.


When can you say if your throat feels tight anxiety is the reason?

There are certain symptoms, which when experienced, make it clear to you that anxiety is the reason why your throat feels tight. These symptoms include:

  • Your muscles feel tense.
  • Your throat feels tight.
  • You breathe rapidly.
  • Your heart starts to pound.
  • You began to sweat a lot.

These few symptoms if seen with tight throat, anxiety might not be the cause:

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Voice change or dysphonia.
  • Itchy eyes,
  • Cough that is wet.


Throat feels tight anxiety self-treatment

Whenever you are having an anxiety attack which causes your throat to feel tight, calming yourself off the anxiety will help you relieve this tightness. This feeling goes away once you your anxiety is controlled.

It depends on the severity of anxiety you are going through how much time it is going to take you to get away with the feeling of throat tightness. Keep in mind that you are going to get fine, having this positive feeling will help you improve the situation.

This feeling can be frightening for sure, but it is also important to know that this is not harmful and it cannot inflict any harm on your body. If you think like it is going to kill you or that it is going to harm you, it will further deteriorate your condition, and your throat will further feel tight.

To relieve yourself of the anxiety, try breathing exercise. What is done in a breathing exercise is:

  • Be comfortable while breathing.
  • Breathe in or inspire via your nose, and breathe out or expire via your mouth.
  • Breathe in or inspire, and hold your breath for a few seconds, and then slowly breathe out.
  • Repeat this for a few minutes.


How to relax your throat muscles?

First and foremost, what can be done is to know why you are anxious. Once you understand why you are anxious this feeling where your throat feels tight can go away.

According to National Health Service (NHS) of United Kingdom, to relax your throat muscles, you should yawn while you inhale or breathe in, and then release a sigh.

Another way you can relax your throat muscles is to stretch your neck. How you can stretch your neck is by:

  • Tilting head forward and holding it for a few second (preferably 10 seconds), and then getting the head back to the center.
  • Move your head to side, and the exact same thing. Get it back to center, and then to the opposite side.
  • Shoulders should be brought up to your ears and should be held like that for a few seconds. Repeat a few times.

Other than this, there are certain exercises, meditation, yoga, or finding new hobbies to relieve yourself of the stress.

Diet also plays a role in calming you in terms of anxiety. You can try avoiding caffeine and consuming a balanced diet. If you are anxious, you can try talking to your family or family, or any other trusted person. If it is difficult for you to talk, you can keep a journal and write whatever you are feeling.


When to see a doctor?

If this tightness does not go away with time and remains for a long time, consider visiting a doctor. Or in case you feel like your anxiety is not able be controlled by any way (provided you have already tried everything else that was in your control), or your anxiety is affected and interfering in your daily life you may consider seeing a psychologist.

But you always have to keep it in mind that for a situation where your throat feels tight anxiety cannot be the cause. If you think this throat tightness is because of some other reason, always see a doctor, so that a diagnosis is made, and thereby treatment is started as soon as possible.



Anxiety is a condition that not only takes a toll on mental health, but also comes with physical symptoms, including where your throat feels tight. Anxiety by releasing cortisol and adrenaline can tense up your throat muscles.

But your throat may feel tight because of other reasons as well. When you feel like the symptoms are beyond anxiety, see a doctor so that you can be treated.

For anxiety, you should know the feeling is not going to last, and you will get over with it with proper help.


Written by Dr.Bayat
Associate Professor of Orthopedic expert,Brigham Hostpital



  • American Psychiatric Association:Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed.

  • ScreechM.Montaigne's Annotated Copy of Lucretius. A Transcription and Study of the Manuscript, Notes and Pen-Marks.

  • American Psychiatric Association Mental Hospital Service.Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

  • FirstMB.CabanDK.Lewis-FernándezDevelopment of the nosology of anxiety disorders. Chapter 3. In: Blair Simpson H, Neria Y, Lewis Fernández R, Schneier F, eds.Anxiety Disorders.

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