Doctors & patients are saying about ''...

" is a great web site for patients, that is unequaled by anything else out there."

Dr. Douglas L. Packer, MD, FHRS, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

"Jill and I put you and your work in our prayers every night. What you do to help people through this [A-Fib] process is really incredible."

Jill and Steve Douglas, East Troy, WI 

“I really appreciate all the information on your website as it allows me to be a better informed patient and to know what questions to ask my EP. 

Faye Spencer, Boise, ID, April 2017

“I think your site has helped a lot of patients.”

Dr. Hugh G. Calkins, MD  Johns Hopkins,
Baltimore, MD

Doctors & patients are saying about 'Beat Your A-Fib'...

"If I had [your book] 10 years ago, it would have saved me 8 years of hell.”

Roy Salmon, Patient, A-Fib Free,
Adelaide, Australia

"This book is incredibly complete and easy-to-understand for anybody. I certainly recommend it for patients who want to know more about atrial fibrillation than what they will learn from doctors...."

Pierre Jaïs, M.D. Professor of Cardiology, Haut-Lévêque Hospital, Bordeaux, France

"Dear Steve, I saw a patient this morning with your book [in hand] and highlights throughout. She loves it and finds it very useful to help her in dealing with atrial fibrillation."

Dr. Wilber Su,
Cavanaugh Heart Center, 
Phoenix, AZ

"...masterful. You managed to combine an encyclopedic compilation of information with the simplicity of presentation that enhances the delivery of the information to the reader. This is not an easy thing to do, but you have been very, very successful at it."

Ira David Levin, heart patient, 
Rome, Italy

"Within the pages of Beat Your A-Fib, Dr. Steve Ryan, PhD, provides a comprehensive guide for persons seeking to find a cure for their Atrial Fibrillation."

Walter Kerwin, MD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA

7 Ways to Cope with the Fear and Anxiety of Atrial FibrillationCoping With the Fear and Anxiety of Atrial Fibrillation

by Steve S. Ryan, PhD

For a substantial portion of A-Fib patients, the impact on ‘quality of life’ extends beyond our beating heart. Atrial Fibrillation wreaks havoc with your head as well as your heart. Anxiety, fear, worry, confusion, frustration and depression. And at times, anger.

The psychological and emotional effects of Atrial Fibrillation can be debilitating. Recent research indicates that “psychological distress” worsens A-Fib symptoms’ severity.

Anxiety by itself can produce physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal distress, sleep issues, shortness of breath, exhaustion, muscle aches, shaking and trembling, sweaty palms, difficulty swallowing, a racing heart like in A-Fib, getting colds frequently because of a depressed immune system.

(Don’t expect much help from your heart doctors. They aren’t trained or often have little effective experience in dealing with the psychological and emotional aspects of A-Fib.)

Don’t be ashamed to admit how A-Fib makes you feel (especially if you’re a guy). Your psyche is just as important as your physical heart. Just acknowledging you have some or all of these symptoms is a step in the right direction.


1. Knowledge is Power and Control!

Read about your treatment options, learn about your A-Fib. Read how others have dealt with their A-Fib. Search the list of Personal Experiences published on his site. With over 100 stories, you’re sure to find a few patients with similar symptoms as yourself. Knowing others have beaten their A-Fib is a tremendous psychological relief. This helps replace fear with hope!

2. Anxiety Thought Log

Confront your A-Fib fears directly. Don’t let them mill around in your subconscious. Former A-Fib patient, Anthony Bladon, suggests you keep an ‘anxiety thoughts log.’ Write down word-for-word what the anxious thought was, when, and what was the trigger. Confront each fearful thought and try to re-state it in a more reasonable frame of mind, thereby reducing the anxiety. (See Anthony Bladon and his anxiety log.)

This may sound a bit bizarre, but try repeating anxious thoughts to yourself. Express a fear to yourself over and over. Let the monotony make your mind wander to more enjoyable thoughts. Or set aside a 20 minute worrying time during the day and refuse to think about troubling fears at any other time.

Name What You’re Feeling, Mindfully Express That Emotion
Identify a negative emotion you are experiencing. That’s often the first step in coping with and controling how your are feeling. Make that feeling part of your conscious thought rather than some vague emotional distress. Write it down or talk to a friend about it.
What is That Feeling Telling You?
Is that subscious emotion trying to make you take some action? Ask yourself what that feeling may mean or how it may be trying to motivate you.


3. Yoga, Relaxation Techniques, Meditation and Walking 

In preliminary studies, Yoga has been demonstrated to improve A-Fib symptoms and to reduce A-Fib attacks, as well as improve quality of life, depression and anxiety. (See also FAQ #8 I do Yoga. It relaxes me and helps with my stress level. Is there any evidence on Yoga helping with other A-Fib symptoms?)

Relaxation techniques and meditation may also offer you relief from your anxieties.

A specific type of meditation called ‘Mindfulness’ is recommended by Harvard Pilgrim nurse case manager Linda Bixby. The technique is to ‘Observe and Feel the Physical Sensations’ of the A-Fib Episodes. At first this may seem counter-intuitive and may not work for you. The idea is to observe rather than resist or worry. You allow a frightening health event like an A-Fib attack to just run its course. For example, Neil Blanchette wrote online that he was diagnosed with A-Fib when he was 17. Meditation and “mindfulness” was a great help to him. “Just taking it in and letting myself feel the physical A-Fib experience was actually relaxing.”

Walking curbs anxiety. Try to walk outdoors at approximately the same time each day. Breathing fresh air and having an established routine enhance the calming and relaxing effects of walking. But even if you can’t walk at the same time or outdoors, 20 minutes of walking daily reduces anxiety.

Use your imagination and creativity in activities that fulfill you. Focus on physical sensations rather than emotional. Take a shower, exercise, walk.

4. Natural Remedies:

Lavender Oil Aromatherapy: the light, soothing fragrance of lavender oil has long been used to ease anxiety (and insomnia). One example of many is Nature’s Way Calm Aid. “It contains Silexan, a type of lavender oil shown in clinical studies to ease anxiety as effectively as the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam (Ativan).”

PharmaGABA: is a bioidentical form of GABA (gamma-ami­nobutyric acid), which serves as a critical calming agent in the central nervous system, works on the same chemical pathways as Xanax, Valium, and other drugs—without all the negative side effects; helps combat stress and anxiousness. One example is Natural Factors PharmaGABA

Relora: a blend of two botanical extracts (Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense) that helps reduce cortisol levels and promotes feelings of relaxation.

Chamomile: “calms the nerves, reduces irritability and lessens the muscle spasms, headache and abdominal pain that can accompany anxiousness.” Substitute chamomile tea for caffeinated beverages, or take 60 drops of chamomile tincture in two ounces of water four times a day before or after meals, or add two drops of concentrated chamomile essential oil to a hot bath at night.

Gotu Kola: restores health to brain and nerve cells by promoting blood circulation to the brain which has a calming effect.

5. Counseling and Meds

Recognize that you may need professional help. Don’t be embarrassed to seek counseling. In addition, discuss if anxiety medication would be appropriate or helpful. Benzodiazepines “benzos” are a class of drugs that may help control the symptoms of anxiety (Xanax, Valium).
(See Jay Teresi’s story, “Anxiety the Greatest Challenge” and Kelly Teresi’s story “A Young Wife Copes with Husband’s A-Fib” in my book, Beat Your A-Fib, pgs. 101-105)

6. Our A-Fib Support Volunteers

It might calm your fears to talk with or email someone who knows first-hand how A-Fib makes you feel. Each of our A-Fib Support Volunteers has gone through a lot to be cured of their A-Fib. They were helped along the way and now they want to return the favor by offering you support and hope. Learn more on our A-Fib Support Volunteers page (under Resources and Links).

7. Enlist Support From Your Loved Ones

Recognize that A-Fib can have significant consequences on your social interactions with your family and colleagues. Sit down and have a talk with your significant other(s), your friends and co-workers. Explain what A-Fib is, how it affects you and how it makes you feel. Ask for their understanding. They will want to help you, so be prepared to answer their questions.

Use social media, if possible, to keep in touch.

8. Finding Purpose In Your Life

People who can articulate their life’s purpose are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline. Finding purpose in life makes us more resilient. Some studies have shown that having a strong sense of purpose can prevent plaque from building up in our heart and brain, and can help keep blood clots from forming. And having purpose reduces stress. There is a correlation between purpose in life and better health regardless of age, sex, education, and race which can result in an extra four years of life.

Examine and even write down what you think about your life. You don’t have to imagine doing things like curing cancer. What about just wanting to be fully there for your children or grandchildren or being healthy enough to volunteer for your favorite charity? Or just being able to walk around the Mall with your friends.

As a help to a more purposeful life, ask yourself these questions:
• What is something you would like to do better?
• Who is someone you would like to love longer?
• What is something you’re hoping for?

Added 11/17/20:

9. Cannabis CBD (marijuana, pot)

Several studies have shown that CBD is an effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  (Most CBD [hemp] comes from plants which have less than 0.3 percent of THC, the ingredient in marijuana that makes you feel “high.”) It’s believed that CBD’s influence on serotonin receptors in the brain may be responsible for its beneficial effects on anxiety. It works similarly to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), drugs used to treat depression and anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain,

Rather than having to smoke pot, you can try edibles or tinctures.

Takeaway: Fight your fears! Ambush your anxiety! Atrial Fibrillation may be in your heart but it doesn’t have to be in your head. Seek your freedom from anxiety and improve the quality of your life.

Other ideas? If you have suggestions or programs that helped reduce your A-Fib-related anxiety, please email me and let me know.
References for this Article
• Gehi AK at al. Psychopathology and symptoms of atrial fibrillation: implications for therapy. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2012 May;23(5):473-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.2011.02264.x. Epub 2012 Mar 19.

• Neale, T. Yoga May Calm Afib. Jan 23, 2013. Last accessed Jan 23, 2014. URL:

• Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Your Health, Fall 2014. • Lucile, H. ( Natural remedy for anxiety, Bottom Line Health, April, 2014, p. 16.

• Whitaker, J. PharmaGABA Chewables for Immediate Stress Relief. Whitaker Wellness Institute website. Last accessed March 29, 2014. URL:

• Whitaker, J. Innovations in Wellness Medicine, Natural Solutions for Stress Relief. Dr. Whitaker’s Health & Healing, March 2015, Vol. 25, No. 3.

• Starbuck, Jamison. The Natural Way/No More Drugs for Anxiety. Bottom Line Health, Volume 29, Number 10, October 2015, p. 10.

• Day, John D. & Bunch, T. Jared. The AFIB Cure. BenBella Books. To be published 2/16/21

• Martins-Welch, Diana. The science behind CBD Will it work for you? Bottom Line Health, December 2020 Vol 34/No 12. p. 13.



Back to top

Return to Dealing with A-Fib

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Saturday, January 14, 2023

Follow Us
facebook - A-Fib.comtwitter - A-Fib.comlinkedin - A-Fib.compinterest - A-Fib.comYouTube: A-Fib Can be Cured! -

We Need You Help be self-supporting-Use our link to Amazon is a
501(c)(3) Nonprofit

Your support is needed. Every donation helps, even just $1.00. top rated by since 2014 

Home | The A-Fib Coach | Help Support | A-Fib News Archive | Tell Us What You think | Press Room | GuideStar Seal | HON certification | Disclosures | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy