Can Anxiety Cause Shortness of Breath?

Anxiety is a common mental health disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and unease, and can cause physical symptoms such as shortness of breath. In this article, we will explore the connection between anxiety and shortness of breath, and discuss how to manage this symptom.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It is a feeling of fear, worry, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. When someone experiences anxiety, they may have physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, or difficulty breathing.

However, when someone experiences anxiety more frequently or intensely than is normal for them, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that involve intense and persistent feelings of fear, worry, and unease.

What is Shortness of Breath?

Shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea, is the feeling of not being able to take in enough air. It can be caused by a variety of conditions, including asthma, allergies, and heart disease. In some cases, it can also be a symptom of an anxiety disorder.

Can Anxiety Cause Shortness of Breath?

Yes, anxiety can cause shortness of breath. This is because when someone is feeling anxious, their body goes into a fight-or-flight response. This response is a natural reaction to danger and prepares the body to either fight or flee.

During this response, the body releases adrenaline and cortisol, which increase heart rate and breathing rate. This can lead to feelings of breathlessness and difficulty breathing.

How to Manage Anxiety-Related Shortness of Breath

If you are experiencing shortness of breath due to anxiety, there are several things you can do to manage it.

The first step is to practice deep breathing exercises. This can help to slow your heart rate and breathing rate, and reduce feelings of breathlessness.

You should also practice relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and yoga. These activities can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and make it easier to breathe.

Finally, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional if you are experiencing anxiety-related shortness of breath. They can help to diagnose and treat any underlying mental health condition, as well as provide advice on how to manage your symptoms.

Conclusion

In conclusion, anxiety can cause shortness of breath. This is because when someone is feeling anxious, their body goes into a fight-or-flight response, which can lead to feelings of breathlessness. To manage anxiety-related shortness of breath, it is important to practice deep breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and talk to a doctor or mental health professional.

FAQs

What is the relationship between anxiety and shortness of breath?

Anxiety can cause shortness of breath due to the body’s natural reaction to stress. When the body is anxious, it can cause an increase in breathing rate and depth, resulting in rapid and shallow breaths, which can lead to a feeling of shortness of breath.

What are some other symptoms of anxiety?

Other symptoms of anxiety can include increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, dizziness, chest pain, and difficulty sleeping.

How can I manage anxiety-related shortness of breath?

Anxiety-related shortness of breath can be managed through relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation. It is also important to seek help from a mental health professional if the symptoms become severe or persistent.


References

Bourne, E. J. (2005). The anxiety & phobia workbook (4th ed.). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Chronic, S. (2020). Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea). Retrieved October 26, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/lung/shortness-of-breath-dyspnea#1

Kessler, R. C., Chiu, W. T., Demler, O., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 617–627. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.617