How correct breathing reduces Anxiety

When someone has a pain in their chest they automatically fear that something is wrong with their heart which of course can be terrifying.

One of the main symptoms of a panic/anxiety attack, other than a racing heartbeat is chest pain and a feeling of suffocation. These symptoms along with possible dizziness, tiredness, headaches, vomiting and more quite often lead the patient to call the ambulance or rush immediately to the hospital. In most of the cases, after being checked over, he or she is told that they are having a panic/anxiety attack and nothing is wrong with their heart.

Take a minute to think about what happens to the body when experiencing a panic/anxiety attack; it is in fear response mode. If you were in some kind of danger you would need to act quickly to defend yourself, that’s why we have a built-in fight-or-flight response that our body activates once we feel any type of threat. This basically means that you breathe harder to pump more blood to your organs and your body automatically releases Adrenaline, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland which is found just above the kidneys. When Adrenaline is produced, it stimulates the heart-rate, dilates blood vessels and air passages, as well as a number of more minor effects. Adrenaline is naturally produced in high-stress or physically exhilarating situations so your body and mind are prepared to take on whatever is facing them.

You will start breathing very deeply (over-breathing or hyperventilating)  and this will cause you to accumulate extra air in your chest and diaphragm area that you don’t need. (the reason you feel suffocated while you’re having a panic attack) Eventually, this will cause pain because your chest is expanding beyond its limits and pushing on your rib cage. During the fight or flight response especially, the body completely shuts off the digestive system because we don’t need it at that moment. This is why our appetite is reduced when we are extremely anxious. The longer the food stays in the stomach the more acid will back up in your oesophagus. This can cause chest pain and a very painful throat.

About 60% of panic attacks are accompanied by hyperventilation and many people suffering from anxiety over-breathe even when they think they are relaxed. The most important thing to understand about hyperventilation or over-breathing is that although we can feel as if we haven’t enough oxygen in our body, actually the opposite is true. Healthy breathing is when there is a steady balance between breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. You upset this balance when you hyperventilate by exhaling more than you inhale.  Everyone tends to think that breathing comes naturally and that there can’t be a wrong way of doing it. Unfortunately, that’s not true. There is a right way and a wrong way and it is essential that correct breathing is learned, understood and established. An anxious body is not a relaxed body, which is why learning how to relax your body in any situation is a must. No Panic teaches how to correct your breathing and relax your body.

The following animation is designed to help people experiencing a panic attack to concentrate on their breathing.

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17 thoughts on “How correct breathing reduces Anxiety”

  1. this has helped me at 4 am when woken by palpitations and the feeling i was going to die i am menapausal and recently started to have panic attacks its the worst feeling in the world i am trying to get a grip on a slippery pole and this helped enourmously

  2. Thanks for the article. It helped me last night. I’m having breathing problem for the last couple of nights and last night I got up again just after mid night. I quickly Googled to see what exactly going on and I followed your article and it really worked perfectly.
    Please keep up good work it must help lot of other people like me. Also it saves time visiting doctor. Thanks

  3. im doing this right now, its quite difficult, I did feel dizzy, breathing through cupped hands worked, this is really helping, I had no idea I was breathing wrong.

  4. This really helped me today. I was starting to go into panic mode. When I do this I start for feel unreal, like I am going to have a heart attack. By concentrating on deep breathing and holding the breath I averted the panic attack. I am so glad, as these can be really scary experiences. Thank you ever so much for your article.

  5. this really helps me…I tend to come on here and read the same thing to help me through an attack…I have had these attacks since watching my mam die in front of me 3 years ago…I am getting a bit better but they still make me feel really ill..any advise would be great thanks

  6. Mahmu says:
    NOVEMBER 25, 2016 AT 00:05
    I’m 68 married male going through major Dipression, acute anxiety, panic and fear 24/7 since last two years traped in it due my failier to cope with my married addicted son’s personal and family issues. Now I’m taking Cymbalta 30mg plus clonazipam 0.75mg for sleep and 0.25 mg twice during day plus weekly CBT too. So far nothing help except Sleeping for about 7-8 Hrs. Morning anxiety and coming out of bed is the biggest daily problem. Besides, prolonged period of my sickness make my other son and family (with whom I and my life live,) very upset, annoyed and unsupportive. They feel now that I may be doing Drama or trying obtain their sympathies instead realizing my real inside sevre sickness.
    Outside everything looks fine but you know inside how a sevrly dipressed with acute anxiety feral during panic and fear. Last month I was in Behavioural Hospital for 15days and gone through Four weekly session ECT too but no minor change noticed except continued headache and short term loss of memories
    In addition to my addicted sons issues Trigger I’m now also facing unsupportive behavior Trigger of my elder son and his wife which made my sanxiety more miserable. Although they knows the original issu which affected entire family and initially they were very supportive but now due my prolonged sickness make them frustrated and I realized it too but now at this age when I’m not working and depending on them with my very little SSI income and Medicare (UHC advantage) plan,
    I have no choice. I remain very productive and active whole my life establishing small family biz which is now run by him. I’m am worried from all four sides with unresolved problems making me crazy and 24/7 anxious/worried.
    What coping tools I should use to overcome and relax from this situation. I tried ignore the anxiety as you suggested, it helped but for a short period of time then again I relapsed and
    Came under same vicious cycle.. I really needs advice and suggestions to get some relaxation and cure.

  7. I have been nasal breathing 24/7 for the last few months, lots pf benefits but I want to tell you how it has affected my last few days, its about anxiety, I am a band leader and two of my important musicians are down with the current cold/flu bug, I know in the past I would have been in a right state worrying about it and having it on my mind all day panicking that I would fail and have to cancel gigs and give them to another band, this is the first time I’ve had this situation since I began using nasal breathing, I’m just sailing through it with just a small amount of worry, nothing like in the past, it works!

  8. So grateful I finally came across your site.

    Have been suffering anxiety and panic attacks for 20 years. Recently they come on regularly and almost without warning. And they can last for hours. The primary symptom is over breathing and total fear that if I stop breathing for just 30 second I won’t be able to start again. It’s the worst feeling.

    After a while try to eat something and drink milk or juices. It usually helps calm me down. And breathing slows.

    But after reading your detailed account of over breathing and how it starts even when you don’t know it, has been a great insight. And the detailed explanation of how overbreathing raises the alarms bells and continues the cycle, was like a light bulb.

    It makes sense because I could never figure out why my anxiety increased and became more frequent, and that over breathing never seemed to help, just increasing the anxiety, not lowering it.

    I will now work on my breathing and different postures too, to see when my breathing starts to relax. For instance, I tended to walk around very erect when overbreathing and it may help me to slump over more to encourage breathing with my diaphragm, not my upper body muscles.

    Thank you for providing this really great article on overbreathing and panic attacks.

  9. I was doing researching and I came across this website. My daughter has a certain problem with anxiety and with some advice that I found here, I explained to her how to improve breathing which helped her a lot. Great article

  10. Thank you Thank you and THANK YOU!!!!!

    At the time I am writing this I have literally just stumbled across this Beautiful Website and Article doing a search after I had a Meditation Session and found myself Hyperventilating as I have ever since I started working on Deep Mindful Breathing!

    It’s so funny because I always thought grabbing those big gulps of air or even yawning was somehow helping to free up more oxygen! And YES The Temptation to take big gulps IS almost overwhelming!

    I recently lost my Most Beloved wife in Late Jan of this year and I am so certain now that I have had some terrible Breathing Habits for actually a very long time which I am also certain has fueled and worsened my Anxiety and Panic Attacks…

    One of the Promises I made to April and myself is that I would really focus on taking better care of myself in big part by eating better, Practicing better Breathing and Yoga / Deep Mindful Meditations.

    Just this one article alone I believe will have a profound life transforming affect and I am now looking so forward to what my next comment / Update will be here two-three months from now!

    Thank you So Much again for all you do!


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