In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. From day-to-day life, to work commitments, to family responsibilities, the list of things that can make us feel anxious seems to be ever-growing. But what many people don’t realize is that anxiety can manifest itself in physical symptoms as well. One of the most common of these is shortness of breath, or feeling like you can’t get enough oxygen.
Shortness of breath is a symptom of anxiety, and it can be very frightening. Many people who experience shortness of breath feel like their breathing is shallow or limited, and they may have difficulty getting a full breath. This can cause feelings of panic, which can make the symptom worse. It’s important to remember that shortness of breath is a symptom of anxiety, not a sign of a more serious medical condition.
What Causes Anxiety Shortness of Breath?
Anxiety can cause shortness of breath because it triggers a “fight-or-flight” response in the body. When the body is under stress, it releases hormones that increase heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. This response is designed to help the body prepare for a stressful situation, such as a physical fight or flight. However, in our modern society, this response is often triggered by psychological stress.
The result of this fight-or-flight response is that the body is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, and the heart rate and breathing rate are increased. This can cause people to feel like they’re not getting enough oxygen, which can lead to feelings of panic and shortness of breath.
How to Manage Anxiety-Related Shortness of Breath
If you’re experiencing shortness of breath due to anxiety, it’s important to remember that it is a normal and temporary response to stress. There are a few steps you can take to manage it:
- Take a few deep breaths – When you’re feeling short of breath, take a few moments to focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this a few times to help your breathing to slow down.
- Practice relaxation techniques – Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can in turn reduce shortness of breath.
- Exercise – Exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and can also help to improve your overall physical health. Even a few minutes of light exercise can help to reduce feelings of anxiety.
- Talk to a professional – If your anxiety is severe or if you’re having difficulty managing it on your own, consider talking to a mental health professional. A therapist can help you to identify the source of your anxiety and provide you with strategies for managing it.
When to See a Doctor
If you’ve been experiencing shortness of breath due to anxiety, it’s important to remember that it is a normal response and that it will eventually go away. However, if the shortness of breath is persistent or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain or difficulty breathing, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
It’s also important to see a doctor if your anxiety is severe or if it is interfering with your everyday life. Your doctor can help to determine if your shortness of breath is due to anxiety or if it is due to a more serious condition. They can also refer you to a mental health professional if necessary.
Anxiety can cause many physical symptoms, including shortness of breath. This feeling can be very frightening, but it is a normal response to stress. The best way to manage anxiety-related shortness of breath is to practice relaxation techniques, exercise, and talk to a mental health professional if necessary. If your shortness of breath is persistent or accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.