Anxiety and Difficulty Breathing

Anxiety and Difficulty Breathing

Anxiety and difficulty breathing is probably one of the most distressing symptoms that people experience when they are undergoing times of emotional distress. If you’re like some people, you’ve experienced anxiety and difficulty breathing at some point in your life. When you’re having a fight or flight response to a stressful situation, difficulty breathing is rather common. However, if you struggle with anxiety and difficulty breathing on a regular basis, you may need to take some steps to solve the problem. Here are steps I would suggest you take if you’re struggling with anxiety and difficulty breathing:

See Your Doctor

Even if you’re pretty sure your anxiety and difficulty breathing problems are related to chronic or acute anxiety, you should still see your doctor to rule out underlying conditions. Many people who struggle to breathe when they’re anxious have no physical problems to cause the issue, but some do have an underlying condition that’s just being made worse by the effects of anxiety on the body. Be sure to describe to your doctor exactly what the breathing difficulty feels like so he or she can run tests to ensure that it is not a problem like bronchitis, croup, heart failure, allergies, or even just lack of exercise that’s giving you trouble breathing whenever you get moderate amounts of exercise.

Learn to Track Your Own Breathing Difficulties

If your doctor confirms that you have no underlying physical reason for your breathing problems, it’s a good idea to start figuring out what’s triggering your anxiety and difficulty breathing. Observe yourself, and jot down actual notes that tell you when you’re having trouble breathing. Think about events that preceded that difficulty, and you might notice a pattern. For instance, your breathing problems might come up when you start thinking about all the things you have to do at work that day or when you have a stressful encounter with a co-worker. Just knowing what your triggers are can help you prepare mentally for different situations, which can help you deal with the breathing difficulties in a much more constructive way.

For some people, generalized anxiety causes almost constant breathing problems. If this is the case for you, consider setting up certain times during the day to practice the following exercises, which may help you regain control of your breathing. If you are constantly anxious, though, you may need some more serious anxiety management techniques or even therapy to help you pinpoint the cause of your constant anxiety.

Practice Deep Breathing

Whenever you find yourself in the midst of anxiety and difficulty breathing, practice deep, abdominal breathing. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath, and keep breathing this way until your lower hand is naturally rising more than your upper hand, indicating that you’re drawing air deeply to the bottoms of your lungs. Keep breathing like this for a few minutes, taking slow, deliberate breaths. Sometimes this is enough to remind you of how to breathe properly so that you can overcome anxiety and difficulty breathing.

Practice Muscle Relaxation

Practicing progressive muscle relaxation can help with anxiety and difficulty breathing because sometimes the breathing problem is related to tension of the muscles around the chest or even around the throat. Learn to use progressive muscle relaxation on a regular basis to keep your body more relaxed, and then use it regularly throughout the day as you find yourself tensing up and having breathing problems. This can help you pinpoint where the tension is and to help yourself let go of that physical tension, which can, in turn, help you release mental and emotional tension, too.