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Can shortness of breath cause anxiety?|woman suffering from panic attack in public|woman in green jacket, outside, deep breathing


Can Shortness Of Breath Cause Stress?

Panic attacks are common among those who suffer from either panic disorder or some type of anxiety. 1 With these attacks typically comes symptoms like shortness of breath. Unfortunately, shortness of breath is a symptom that can lead to increased stress and even more fear. Some people might feel as if they are unable to breathe or take in any kind of oxygen while suffering it. Because the symptom itself is so fearsome, it can heighten the state of panic or anxiety, worsening the issue altogether. If you are someone that is experiencing shortness of breath due to having an anxiety disorder or having specific phobias, you may want to remedy the issue as the symptom itself can manifest itself as a major contributor to the worsening of your overall health. Below, we will be going over how shortness of breath can cause worsening of anxiety symptoms and how it typically precedes anxiety altogether.

woman suffering from panic attack in public What Causes Shortness Of Breath?

Shortness of breath is typically caused by physiological changes that occur during a state of panic. Our bodies have a ‘fight or flight’ response that is triggered when we sense danger or fear. Because of this, it can lead to changes in one’s breathing pattern which can exacerbate the state of panic. 2 When one experiences a panic attack or an anxiety attack, one’s breathing typically comes at a much quicker pace. As a result, you might end up taking in much shorter and more shallow breaths than you would otherwise be taking.

What Do You Experience During Episodes Of Having Shortness Of Breath?

Shortness of breath can have a direct impact on how you are feeling and how your body reacts to different things. If you are someone that is suffering from shortness of breath, you will typically have a much more difficult time ‘catching your breath.’ You are also likely to experience feelings of being unable to breathe in. Some other symptoms that you might experience during this include the sensation of having a lump in your throat, keeping your airways constricted and unable to operate properly. Along with this, you might even experience a sense of amplified confusion, which can keep you in an anxious state due to it worsening your senses and your ability to think clearly. Lastly, you might even experience general numbness in your extremities.

Shortness of breath is not something that you are likely to experience all of the time. Because it is a symptom that persists when you are in a constant state of panic, you are likely going to have ‘episodes’ of it occur when your anxiety heightens. For some, it might not be too noticeable. Whereas, for others, it could be considered a crippling condition. Some might even experience this symptom seemingly out of nowhere with no noticeable trigger to speak of. In this case, it could lead to a triggering of anxiety-related symptoms along with it.

woman in green jacket, outside, deep breathing How To Correct It?

If you are someone that experiences shortness of breath due to heightened anxiety, you are going to want to take slow, deep, and very deliberate breaths. Instead of filling up your upper lungs with quick successive breaths, you should focus on filling your lower lungs and implementing deep or diaphragmatic breathing. This will help to slow down your breathing, allow you to fill your lungs up with much more oxygen, and help you trick your body into calming itself down. By doing this, you should be able to minimize the chances that your anxiety or panic attack will worsen due to your breathing pattern. There are plenty of different breathing techniques that you will be able to implement, which will allow you to calm yourself and to get yourself out of a constant state of panic or fear.


Overall, shortness of breath is typically something that occurs once anxiety or fear sets in. While it can come prior to feelings of anxiety, it is typically going to result in a worsening of the condition altogether. Those that suffer from anxiety and/or panic attacks are likely to suffer from shortness of breath as a direct symptom and complication of it. If you are someone that experiences shortness of breath regularly, you are going to want to look at implementing some of the deep breathing exercises which will allow you to slow your breath in critical situations, which can help you to trick your body out of the ‘fight or flight’ state and bring it back into a much more relaxed state. You should seek professional help if you suffer from shortness of breath for any reason. With guided help and breathing practice, you should be able to learn how to better control your symptoms altogether.

Photo credits: TeroVesalainen/, RobertKneschke/, DeanDrobot/

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