How to Tell If Shortness of Breath is From Anxiety?

Are you suffering from shortness of breath and want to know the reason behind it?

Well, anxiety affects around 34% of the individuals in the US. As it comes with a lot of signs and symptoms, dyspnea ( shortness of breath) is one of the common symptoms that can be scary. 

However, there are other reasons as well that cause shortness of breath. 

So, keep reading to find out how to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety.  

Anxiety and Shortness of Breath

Anxiety is your body’s natural response, which occurs when you experience any stressful event. 

So, how can anxiety cause shortness of breath? 

Well, the body releases two hormones called cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline that prepare your body for the fight-and-flight response. Your brain sends messages to your chest and abdominal muscles, which results in muscle constriction. You may feel an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and your digestive system slows down. Your breathing rate increases in an attempt to get more oxygen, leading to shortness of breath. 

A part of the brain called amygdala plays a crucial role in fear and anxiety. According to research, people with anxiety show heightened amygdala response. 

However, constant anxiety can also lead to adverse heart problems, which can also be the reason for shortness of breath.

So, how to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety?

How To Tell If Shortness Of Breath Is From Anxiety?

Every individual shows different symptoms of anxiety, but every anxiety has one common symptom, which is dyspnea (shortness of breath). 

It also accompanies a lot of other physiological and psychological symptoms, which are listed below:

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Here are a few physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • Heart palpitations (increased heart rate)
  • Hyperventilation (Increased breathing rate)
  • Headache
  • Trembling
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Tensed muscles
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Dryness of mouth 
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)

Psychological Symptoms of Anxiety

Here are a few psychological symptoms of anxiety:

  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • dizziness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Lack of focus or concentration
  • impulsiveness

To know if anxiety is causing breathing problems, you should monitor its triggers. Mostly, anxiety causing shortness of breath happens when you are going through any stressful situation like a financial crisis, relationship issues, some life-changing events, work pressure, or maybe dealing with other health conditions. 

Therefore, if you are under constant stress and are suffering from dyspnea, then it might be due to anxiety. According to research, people with anxiety are prone to digestive, reproductive, cardiovascular, and other mental health conditions. 

Other Causes of Dyspnea

Since you know how to tell shortness of breath is from anxiety, there are other conditions mentioned below that also contribute to causing dyspnea.

  • Cardiovascular problem
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Anemia 
  • Low blood pressure

However, the gut is also indirectly involved in causing dyspnea. When intestinal flora is disturbed, mood disorders like anxiety develop. Therefore, it is essential to keep your stomach happy and healthy. 

Suppose you have dyspnea, discomfort in the chest area, pain in the jaw or arm, nausea or vomiting, and excessive sweating without any cause. In that case, you should immediately consult your healthcare provider, as this may be a sign of a heart attack. 

How to Treat Shortness of Breath from Anxiety?

Calming down your anxiety levels will reduce your symptoms. Therefore, if you want to ease your anxiety, below are some ways that can help you:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It is one of the effective ways of psychotherapy. This therapy builds behavioral skills to deal with anxiety-provoking events or stimuli. Sometimes, exposure therapy is used in which you are exposed to anxiety-stimulating events to reduce your unnecessary fear and learn healthy coping mechanisms. 


Sometimes, your health care provider puts you on some anxiolytics to relieve anxiety causing breathing problems. However, these drugs, especially benzodiazepine, can be highly addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms as well. So, it should not be stopped abruptly as it can also lead to serious health issues like seizures. 

Relaxation Techniques

You can simply use breathing exercises to calm down your anxiety. Some of them are:

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing: This breathing exercise helps regulate negative emotions. Research shows that people who perform 20 sessions of diaphragmatic breathing have fewer negative feelings and improved stress. 
  • Pursed Lip Breathing: This technique involves a deep inhalation of air through the nose and expiration through the mouth with pursed lips. It gives a sense of control while breathing, which is why it is one of the most effective relaxing methods and helps ease dyspnea. 

How to Prevent Shortness of Breath from Anxiety?

The best way to prevent losing control over your breathing due to anxiety is to know your triggers. You can monitor your mood by journaling them during any stressful event. This will help you find out your triggers. 

Exercise is also found to be an effective way to deal with anxiety that causes shortness of breath. During exercise, your body releases chemicals like serotonin and endorphins that regulate your emotions and distract your negative thinking patterns. 

You can also consider consulting any mental health care provider. This will help you learn new strategies to deal with anxiety. 

Get Effective Therapy for Shortness of Breath From Anxiety In NYC

Are you tired of dealing with anxiety-causing dyspnea? If yes, then you are at the right place. 

At Mocean Wellness Center in NYC, we provide effective therapies to calm down your anxiety. Our experts perform a holistic assessment to determine your triggers and work on them professionally using techniques like sound therapy, Infrared sauna therapy, and red light therapy.

The Bottom Line

Shortness of breath is one of the common symptoms caused by anxiety. Although it might be a scary experience, you can take control of your breathing by practicing anxiety-management skills. However, you should seek a health care provider if you feel your anxiety and its symptoms, especially shortness of breath, getting worse.

Book your appointment at Mocean Longevity Center in NYC to ease your breathing issues caused by anxiety!   

Then we create a health plan tailored to your needs.

Based on the results, we develop a personalized treatment plan for each individual to promote optimal health. With 1-on-1 consultations, cutting-edge technology, and a team of experts who care about getting you better, MOCEAN offers you a comprehensive road map on how to become the healthiest version of yourself.