My brother went to the emergency room because he thought he was having a heart attack. Instead, he was diagnosed with costochondritis. What is that? Costochondritis is caused by inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs and the breastbone, called the costosternal joints see illustration. This uncommon condition can trigger a stabbing, aching pain that's often mistaken for a heart attack. Most often, the underlying cause isn't known, but it can result from trauma, such as a blow to the chest, or physical strain, such as heavy lifting or strenuous exercise. Even severe coughing may lead to costochondritis. Other possible causes include arthritis or a joint infection. The main symptom of costochondritis is chest pain, which may be sharp or dull and gnawing. It tends to get worse when a person takes a deep breath or coughs, and the chest may feel tender and possibly swollen when pressed.
Search Harvard Health Publishing
Your session is about to expire!
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley. Life is going to bring with it lots of ups and downs. Some situations are out of our control, which can make it difficult to deal with. Some of these situations leave us with hurting hearts. It could be from the loss of a relationship, the death of a loved one, or situations that didn't go exactly like we thought it would. Each person has different strengths and weaknesses in life.
Browse by Topic
Most of us see the connection between social and physical pain as a figurative one. At the same time, life often presents a compelling argument that the two types of pain share a common source. A few years ago a group of doctors at Johns Hopkins University reported a rare but lethal heart condition caused by acute emotional distress. Behavioral science is catching up with the anecdotes, too. In the past few years, psychology researchers have found a good deal of literal truth embedded in the metaphorical phrases comparing love to pain. Neuroimaging studies have shown that brain regions involved in processing physical pain overlap considerably with those tied to social anguish.
Site update 3 Aug. I've been depressed for years, probably most of my life. Usually when it was at it's worst, the main symptom was complete apathy and a great desire to sleep most of the day. I've been very happily stabilized on antidepressants for the past 5 or 6 years. My meds stopped working this summer, and I just started on nortriptyline about 4 or 5 weeks ago. When I was first starting on them, I had random, unprovoked crying spells, but this is I had started feeling like I could see the glimmerings of the old me coming back just before Christmas. But it hit me about mid-morning today that I feel utterly bereft and heartbroken, with nothing particularly to be heartbroken about.