March 11, 2012 Shortness of Breath – One of the Most Common Anxiety Symptoms
Shortness of breath is one of the most commonly reported symptoms experienced with anxiety. Generally, when this occurs, you are having what is known as an anxiety attack. Symptoms can last for extended periods of time, often more than ten minutes. If shortness of breath continues, it can even lead to other symptoms, like chest pain.
Understanding the Connection
When our bodies become stressed, our bodies tend to react accordingly. Often, this reaction comes in faster, shallower breathing. If your breathing becomes too rapid, you may become frightened or alarmed. This can elevate the situation even further.
It truly is a vicious cycle. It can be very hard to change and can be very frightening to go through. As a result, many anxiety sufferers will start to avoid the situations that trigger feelings of fear or anxiety. Depending on the trigger, you can end up avoiding situations that may be needed for everyday life, like the grocery store or work.
Learning how to recognize the symptoms, why they occur, and how you can resolve them can help you get your life back. This is something that many anxiety sufferers truly need. They have lost their lives to their condition. The longer you avoid the situation, the harder it can be to turn things right side up again. So, if you are struggling with shortness of breath from anxiety, there is no time like the present to start moving forward.
Where Shortness of Breath Begins
The first step to getting your life back is learning where the problem begins. Like all anxiety symptoms, anxiety-related shortness of breath begins in your brain. Feelings of stress, worry, embarrassment, or fear trigger a release of adrenaline in your brain. This is a natural chemical that is produced when your body, mind, or spirit are in imminent danger. Originally, the body used it to protect the body from life or death situations. However, today, the triggering situations do not have to be life or death. If you perceive the situation as large or serious, then your brain perceives it as life or death.
Once the chemicals are released into the body, the body starts to react accordingly. Your muscles get tense. Your heart starts beating faster. Your breathing starts to get more rapid and shallow. You may start to feel dizzy because of a lack of oxygen to the brain. This can cause stronger feelings of anxiety, causing your breathing to become more rapid and shallow. All of this can occur within just moments of your negative thoughts.
Other Complications From Shortness of Breath
Depending on the length of time that you experience shortness of breath, you are likely to experience other symptoms. You may start to hyperventilate which can cause dizziness and chest pain. You may start to have body tremors and are likely to feel like you have to escape from whatever situation is causing your negative feelings. You may even feel like you are going to pass out or are having a heart attack.
There are many cases of people that visit the emergency room every year because of anxiety attacks. They don’t understand what caused their pain. They didn’t know they were under stress. For whatever reason, they didn’t associate their pain and shortness of breath with anxiety. It is not until a large number of tests are performed and no cause is found that they learn that the cause of their pain was an anxiety attack. They also often learn that, because they have had one, they are more likely to have more.
Changing the Cycle
There are a number of ways that you can treat anxiety. And, depending on why you are experiencing anxiety, you are likely to find that some methods work better than others. In some cases, exposure to the situation after practicing relaxation techniques may be best. In others, cognitive behavioral therapy that works on changing the way you react to particular situations may be the answer. Finding what works for you will probably take some trial and error, but most of all, it will take time.
Retraining Your Breathing
While you are learning how to cope with your anxiety problems, you are likely to need a way to help you deal with the shortness of breath problems. One of the most effective ways of dealing with anxiety-related shortness of breath is through retraining your breathing with deep breathing.
Deep breathing requires you to take slower, deeper breaths. When performing deep breathing, your stomach should expand. You should also breathe through your nose because rapid breathing is much harder to do through your nose. To help you utilize this technique during times of stress and anxiety, you may want to practice it regularly when you are calm.