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|man having panic attack breathing with paper bag|young woman deep breathing with greenery in background|Is Shallow Breathing Harmful to Your Overall Health?


Is Shallow Breathing Harmful to Your Overall Health?

While breathing is something people instinctively do, some individuals develop inconsistencies in breathing over time for various reasons. For instance, a lot of people end up practicing shallow breathing as a direct result of health conditions, environmental factors, and more.

There are a lot of reasons why people develop the habit of shallow breathing. Unfortunately, this type of breathing can directly result in heightened levels of anxiety and stress. This is primarily due to the reaction that it can cause in the body.

Shallow breathing is something that can trigger a sympathetic nervous system response which is primarily responsible for priming the body for both activity and response. 1 Therefore, once you trigger the response, it can increase overall stress levels. Unfortunately, it places the body in a constant state of heightened stress. This heightened state can be damaging for both the body and mind in the long term. Highlighted below is an overview of what shallow breathing is and how you can actively work to prevent it.

What Is Shallow Breathing?

Shallow breathing is a type of rapid breathing that can directly lead to minimal oxygen intake. It typically occurs when an individual breathes through the chest rather than through the abdominal region. There are various medical conditions that are symptomatic of shallow breathing. This includes different kinds of anxiety disorders, stress disorders, and panic attacks.

man having panic attack breathing with paper bag Consequences of Shallow Breathing

Shallow breathing is a habit that can negatively impact overall health in a variety of ways. Because shallow breathing can be directly linked to heightened anxiety and panic attacks, it can serve as a precursor for various cardiovascular problems and can worsen existing respiratory issues.

Not only can it cause a worsening of symptoms that heighten risk factors for various diseases, but it can negatively impact your posture. When you breathe directly through your chest rather than your abdominal se ction, you tighten up your back, neck, and shoulder muscles, which can cause neck pain, back issues, and headaches.

Shallow breathing can actually result in panic attacks for those who tend to suffer from them. However, it can be effectively controlled or reduced by implementing the right breathing techniques. For most, having a mindful approach to breathing can be a very effective way to reduce an impending anxiety attack due to its ability to calm you down.

young woman deep breathing with greenery in background How Deep Breathing Can Help

When you implement deep breathing, you will be able to effectively lower your heart rate, improve blood pressure, decrease tension in your muscles, decrease anxiety and stress levels, and more. 2 Essentially, deep breathing techniques can reverse the negative effects of shallow breathing. Deep breathing can have a positive impact on everything from anxiety levels to overall immune system function.

It is able to do so by providing a parasympathetic nervous system response, which can help promote relaxation. This puts the body in a relaxed and rested state which can improve various bodily functions through a decrease in the stress hormone known as cortisol. 3 Therefore, if you are looking to minimize the stress repose and reduce anxiety in total, implementing deep breathing exercises is a great way to go about it.


Ultimately, shallow breathing can be detrimental to overall health and wellness. It is a direct response to experiencing anxiety and heightened stress levels. Therefore, to take your body and mind out of the heightened response, try implementing deep breathing techniques. That way, you can improve your ability to relax and reduce your anxiety levels.

Photo Credits: AJR_photo/, BillionPhotos/, wavebreakmedia/

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