It is normal to experience shortness of breath as a symptom of anxiety. Although identifying the cause of your shortness of breath can be hard when it’s happening, existing health complications, environmental triggers, and perhaps, any of the medications you are taking may be contributing factors.
In this article, we will be looking at the connection between shortness of breath and anxiety. We will also give some useful tips that will help you breathe easily again.
Characteristics of anxiety
Anxiety conditions are rampant and present differently in many individuals. The feeling of anxiety can show up as fear, worry, and apprehension or physically like shortness of breath, stomach ache, and chest pain.
Here are some other physical symptoms that, when coupled with shortness of breath, may point to anxiety:
- Tightness in the chest or chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Shaking or trembling
- A suffocating or choking sensation
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Dry mouth
Is there a connection between shortness of breath and anxiety?
All the symptoms that come with anxiety are in our DNA, because we’re biologically built to be anxious in certain situations. The heart rate increases when this stress response occurs, causing oxygen and blood to flow faster to the muscles as you get ready to take action (fight or flight). An increase in heart rate also relates to hyperventilation and shortness of breath.
Sometimes, anxiety can set in independently without any reasonable cause. Things like environmental factors, genetics, traumatic events, brain chemistry, and stress can cause anxiety without any underlying reason. You can manage these causes of anxiety by taking anti-anxiety medications.
How do you handle shortness of breath caused by anxiety?
Try to remain calm whenever you notice signs of anxiety, such as shortness of breath or a fast-beating heart. Your attention should be on making your breathing patterns stable. Here are some approaches that can stop anxiety and get your breathing back to normal:
In times of heightened anxiety, resort to doing the things that bring you peace. You can listen to your favorite music album, light a scented candle and inhale deeply, or even enjoy the flavors of a cup of rich herbal tea. Whatever it is, ensure that those moments are all about you.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a deep breathing approach that can give you instant relief from anxiety. It concentrates on enlarging the stomach when you inhale deeply and then contracting it when you exhale.
Diaphragmatic breathing works well in mind-body routines such as yoga and is proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower anxiety.
Follow the guideline listed below to practice diaphragmatic breathing:
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes, with one of your hands on your chest and the other on your belly.
- Close your mouth and deeply inhale through your nose.
- Slowly exhale with your nose while compressing your ab muscles.
- Repeat this for about 5–10 minutes, or till your symptoms reduce or disappear.
You can take a cold shower, dip your face in a bowl filled with ice water, or even soak yourself in a pool of cold water. Cold water has a cooling effect on your nervous system, and regulates your blood pressure and heart rate.
Clinical psychiatrists and physicians can prescribe medications and talk therapy to help you manage anxiety. Some of the medications are beta-blockers, buspirone, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, and antidepressants. These medications relieve anxiety by boosting the effects of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Specifically, benzodiazepines relieve all kinds of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
Shortness of breath is a common symptom of anxiety. Anxiety is triggered whenever we sense danger; it is usually an overwhelming experience and happens unexpectedly. Anxiety disorder is an illness that can affect mental health. You can manage anxiety with medications and mind-body routines. Visit Ketamine Wellness Institute to get ketamine therapy if you experience persistent anxiety symptoms.