How To Tell If Shortness Of Breath Is From Anxiety

Have you ever felt the tightness in your chest? It can signal shortness of breath called (dyspnea). When there is shortness of breath, it can be a common symptom of anxiety, which certain situations can trigger, making you feel anxious. 

Shortness of breath can cause other physical issues and also affects mental health in several ways, making it dangerous for life! This article lets us know how to tell whether shortness of breath is from anxiety.

What Is Anxiety?

To tell if the shortness of breath is from anxiety, you need first to understand what anxiety means! When one person has physical, mental, or emotional stress, this is called anxiety.

We might feel uneasy when we understand these feelings, but it is normal. Anxiety is more aggravated when one worries which are uncontrolled. Mostly, when one is over-anxious or stressed, one may experience some symptoms like:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Shallow breathing
  • The feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Hyperventilation

How To Tell If Shortness Of Breath Is From Anxiety?

Shortness of breath is a symptom that is influenced by several reasons, and one main reason that is linked is to anxiety. This section will answer your questions on how to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety. Let's delve into it:

  • Initiation of the Sympathetic Nervous System: The activation of anxiety leads to the sympathetic nervous system's “fight or flight” response in the body. This response makes the body for perceived threats. As a result, it increases heart rate and respiratory rate.
  • Shallow Breathing Patterns: Anxiety often forces individuals to accept shallow breathing patterns, where the breathing rate becomes rapid and limited to the chest. This shallow breathing tendency can feel like insufficient oxygen intake, which makes you breathless.
  • Hyperventilation: Individuals who have anxious feelings can have hyperventilation. It is a phase where breathing becomes excessively rapid and deep. As a result, it can hinder the oxygen rate, making it imbalanced, and carbon dioxide in the body aggravates more, which leads to breathlessness.
  • Comprehensive Evaluation: Take a mindful observation of symptoms like worry, nervousness, and irritability, as we know that anxiety seldom manifests in isolation. So, evaluating all those things below can make your life better, and you can feel relaxed and have peace of mind.
  • Temporal Connection: Note that when you have shortness of breath, it might align with stressors. Because it is a short-lived symptom when one has anxiety, it can be reduced once the stressor subsides. It will last for a certain age, it is assumed, because due to work stress and lifestyles, it might aggravate, and gradually, over the years, it might vanish.

When one is having anxiety, it is required to seek medical care. Although you have symptoms of shortness of breath, instead of behaving casually, consult with your nearest healthcare professionals and ensure a thorough examination, ruling out any serious underlying conditions.

When To Seek Medical Help For Shortness of Breath?

If you see there is abrupt shortness of breath or your daily activities are hindered, then you need to be very cautious about the warning signs.

These need a medical emergency; in such cases, seeking immediate medical attention is necessary. Check out the following symptoms; if you experience the below symptoms, seek your doctor's care.

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Nausea
  • Blue tinge to your lips or nails
  • Shortness of breath at night time
  • Persistent coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles
  • Difficulty breathing when lying flat
  • Worsening of existing shortness of breath

Health is wealth! So, prioritizing your health and well-being by identifying these signs and acting promptly by seeking emergency medical care is the best way to reduce rapid breathing or shortness of breath.

Coping With Anxiety-Induced Shortness Of Breath: Strategies And Interventions

If you are having symptoms like shortness of breath, then you have to follow the strategies described below:

Breath Awareness and Regulation

Always adopt deep breathing exercises that can deal with your anxiety level that is generated by negative hormones which urge more stress. You can do breathing exercises like “Pranayama.”

The Power of Belly Breathing

Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is called belly breathing exercise. Doing this exercise is more beneficial for both diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and also those who are grappling with common symptoms of anxiety, such as shortness of breath.

This exercise can be done by one having to breathe deeper focusing on the stomach rather than the chest. When the stomach rises up and down with breathing pressure it will give relaxation, and enhance diaphragm strength.

How to do it?

  • Find a comfortable position on a flat surface or bed.
  • Hand placement should be one hand on your upper chest and the other one just below your rib cage on your belly.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose, and check your belly is rising up and down.
  • Exhale gradually through your lips and keep the hand on your belly to relax back to its original position.

The Power of Music

When anxiety grips your mind, to distract from the stress, enjoying music is an effective method to reduce your stress. These normal steps can enhance your mental escape, which alleviates both anxious thoughts and also reduces physical symptoms like shortness of Breath.

Incorporate music for anxiety relief, such as curating a playlist of your loved songs, focusing on calming melodies or lyrics that resonate with you.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Assemble mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your daily habits that can surely impact positivity in your body and mind to alleviate anxiety and help your respiratory function properly. 

How to do it? 

  • Find a quiet space that comforts you! The place where you can sit in an isolated way, no one is there to disturb you.
  • Comfortable seating while on the chair with your feet lying on the floor or lying down on your back ensures a relaxed sitting posture.
  • Deep breath while closing your eyes through your nose, allow your belly portion to rise, and exhale slowly through your mouth.
  • Scan your body, starting from your toes to gradually to the top of your head.
  • Choose a focal point for your attention, such as your breath, a soothing sound, or a mental image.

Addressing Underlying Anxiety

Identifying and checking the root causes of anxiety through therapy is the best medium. Even also, lifestyle changes or other interventions can reduce anxiety-related symptoms, including breathlessness.

When to Take Support From Mental Health Professionals

However, a minimum level of anxiety is a part of life. But one has to check if the anxiety is affecting your day-to-day life and your routine work. Instantly, you have to seek a mental health professional or psychiatrist to come out from your anxiety disorder.

  • Knowing When to Seek Help: Consulting a doctor is best when you have the above symptoms. As we know, health is very precious when we are fit and fine, especially in our mind and body, then we are counted as a healthy person. So, get rid of anxiety. These are the below points when one needs to consult a mental health professional or psychiatrist includes; –
  • Functional Impairment: When one is facing challenges in carrying out daily activities or getting through the day, then one needs to seek professional assistance. Sometimes, when one has anxiety, it is very difficult to do daily activities like getting up on time, lack of sleep, an imbalanced diet, and so on.
  • Proportionality: Check your anxiety level with the stress you are facing in a day. Then, if you see that your stress level is disproportionate, it could show that you are suffering from anxiety.
  • Persistent Symptoms: If anxiety symptoms count for more periods and affect your quality of life, then, in that case, you might have to seek professional evaluation.

Treatment Options To Overcome The Anxiety:

Here are some of the treatment ways to overcome your anxiety for a healthy lifestyle

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective healing approach to getting rid of anxiety or stress that can alleviate negative thought patterns in your mind.
  • Medications: The doctor may recommend antidepressant medicine that can suppress the anxiety symptoms, which can function as neurotransmitters in the brain. Do not take self-medication. Always consult a doctor, then take it in utmost available to all.
  • Integrated Approach: Often, a combination of talk therapy and medication can be a comprehensive and tailored approach to treating anxiety disorders.


Never make the anxiety beyond stress level; if it is normal, then it is okay! If it goes beyond the normal level affecting your daily activities, then seek professional help to enhance your mental well-being.

Do not worry. Anxiety disorder is treatable when you have the right support and medications. If you can take proper anti-depression medicine and exercise daily, you can lead a better lifestyle.


1. Can anxiety cause shortness of breath?

Ans: Yes, anxiety can lead to physical symptoms and shortness of breath, which are common reasons. When the body releases stress, it can affect breathing patterns, resulting in the sensation of breathlessness.

2. How can I distinguish anxiety-induced shortness of breath from other medical conditions?

Ans: If one has to reduce anxiety, then one has to make a self-assessment. Related to shortness of breath and feeling worried, nervousness, and irritability are the symptoms of anxiety. However, seeking a healthcare professional is important to rule out other potential causes.

3. Are there specific triggers that indicate anxiety-related shortness of breath?

Ans: Anxiety-induced shortness of breath might alleviate both short-term and chronic conditions. Identifying the patterns and recognizing them can provide a better insight into the potential connection to anxiety.

4. Is shortness of breath from anxiety always temporary?

Ans: Yes, anxiety-related shortness of breath typically remains for the short term. The stressor and anxious situation are reduced automatically and the anxiety will fade away. If it persists more it can worsen your situation. Before it is more aggravating consult the healthcare professional.

5. Are there signs that indicate I should seek emergency medical attention for shortness of breath?

Ans: Yes, signs like chest pain, lightheadedness, a blue tinge to lips or nails, or persistent symptoms of severe shortness of breath can aggravate if you need not check the medical condition. If in doubt, it's crucial to seek emergency medical care.

6. How can I differentiate between normal shortness of breath and anxiety-related shortness of breath?

Ans: Normal shortness of breath often occurs during physical exertion and resolves with rest. Anxiety-related shortness of breath may happen at rest and is accompanied by other anxiety symptoms like a racing heart or feelings of impending doom.

7. Can certain lifestyle factors contribute to anxiety-related shortness of breath?

Ans: Doing all these can contribute to overall anxiety levels that can potentially exacerbate symptoms like shortness of breath.

    1. Lack of physical activity.
    2. Poor sleep.
    3. Excessive caffeine intake.

Read Also:

Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *