Can I Suffocate In Anxiety and Panic?

Himanshu Dani Comment

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anxiety and panic

We have seen that Anxiety is your mind and body’s heightened response to some threat.

That threat can be real or imagined.

If you are an anxiety sufferer the chances are high that you might be having imagined irrational fears which are not real.

Anxiety and Panic Attack sufferers commonly have a lot of concern for their health and are constantly thinking that there is something wrong with their body. Like them, you might also be looking or expecting
some health issue to be eventually found
out, even though
 doctors have assured you that
you are perfectly fine.

The fear that you have suffocation or breathlessness problem is one of  the issues

Anxiety and Panic Attack sufferers commonly have a lot of concern for their health and are constantly thinking that there is something wrong with their body. Like them, you might also be looking or expecting some health issue to be eventually found out, even though the doctors have assured you that you are perfectly fine. The fear that you have suffocation problem is one of the things.

Like them, you might also be looking or expecting some health issue to be eventually found out, even though the doctors have assured you that you are perfectly fine. The fear that you have suffocation problem is one of the things.

It is actually shortness of breath

The fear of suffocation which troubles you every now and then is actually the shortness of breath which you feel during the anxiety attacks. Shortness of breath is a very common symptom of anxiety disorders like Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Panic disorder and Phobias.

We will see how to cope with shortness of breath during your anxiety and/or panic attacks. Over that, we will see how to prevent it occurring to you.

How does shortness of breath occur: It’s causes

Just remember the moment when your panic attack starts suddenly. During that moment you get a sudden intense lightning bolt like sensation in your chest and upper belly together. The next thing happens is, after that sensation the very first breath you take is often very rapid and shallow. It is the breath of dread. It is followed by more breaths which go in the same manner. So looking at that, the overall rhythm of your respiration cycle is imbalanced.

The next thing happens is, after that sensation the very first breath you take is often very rapid and shallow. It is the breath of dread. It is followed by more breaths which go in the same manner. So looking at that, the overall rhythm of your respiration cycle is imbalanced.

So looking at that, the overall rhythm of your respiration cycle is imbalanced in anxiety

During the course of this time of 2-3 minutes, you have taken more oxygen in your blood and more carbon dioxide has been expelled out by your lungs. So there is a considerable difference between the levels of these two gases in your blood.

This is called as over breathing.

That is simply breathing more than enough. The shortness of breath (or feeling of suffocation as you say)is the sensation you have because of over breathing. This condition is called hyperventilation and it is even experienced by healthy people also.

Two ways breathing occurs: through the chest and through the diaphragm. Anxiety sufferers have a habit to breathe with chest and not with the diaphragm. This shallow chest breathing causes shortness of breath.

Can I Suffocate In Anxiety and Panic?        l2

The orange colored is the diaphragmatic muscle-  the diaphragm

Hyperventilation causes symptoms like lightheadedness, dizziness, numbing and pins and needles.

If you are already anxiety sensitive person that makes you anxious and panicky instantly. You feel that these sensations are dangerous. You interpret them as the indicators of some underlying dangerous health problem!

Consequently, you panic more. It causes you to breathe more, hyperventilate more and have more and more sensation of shortness of breath.

But remember, during all this, there is no deficiency of oxygen in your blood. In fact, your blood is flooded with oxygen to serve your muscles and get you in vigorous action.

Also, you breathed well and there is no sign that your lungs didn’t perform well. Actually, they performed very well. That’s why hyperventilation occurred. Isn’t it?

Hyperventilation occurring due to anxiety is not dangerous

When you hyperventilate you feel breathlessness or have the “suffocation feeling.”

Your body is not in danger.

The fact is that there is an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Carbon dioxide is not the life supporting gas for our bodies. But, its proportion in the body is essential for the normal functioning of the body.

Like its excess is harmful to us, its lack also produces some sensations in the body.

Whenever there is such an imbalance the body has a restoring mechanism called Homeostasis

What is Homeostasis?

It is the process which restores the normal levels of respiratory gases in the blood. It acts contrary to hyperventilation and brings your body back to the normal state. It is a physiological process which is automatically controlled by the brain-body conjecture. 

You can speed up this process by doing belly breathing and taking guided relaxation.

Dr. David Carbonell of anxietycoach.com, explains the method of diaphragmatic breathing for controlling anxiety and panic attacks effectively:

Dr. David Carbonell is the founder and director of the Anxiety Treatment Center in Chicago. An expert in the Treatment of Panic and Anxiety disorders, he has conducted training and seminars throught the United States and maintains a self-help website at www.anxietycoach.com.

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