Also known as: “I’m not getting enough oxygen!”
Hyperventilation is the process or feeling where breathing becomes an added effort and all of our attention is suddenly focused on the mechanisms of our breathing. This can be misconceived as feeling like we’re not getting enough oxygen, or it can create a panic reaction because we question why we’re breathing so abnormally.
Irregular breathing usually occurs when we feel panicky and anxious but can also happen when we’re feeling physically encumbered by things such as stomach bloating or tiredness.
Almost every anxiety sufferer has been concerned about breathing at some point when living with the condition. When we are anxious our heart rate usually increases, so to compensate for this we breathe in more oxygen.
Throughout the day we begin to shallow breathe because the anxiety has caused us to take in more oxygen than what’s required. However many mistake this natural shallow breathing as the feeling that we’re not getting enough oxygen so we then begin to breathe in more – we begin to hyperventilate. The body can’t produce the carbon dioxide it needs to get rid of in time so we’re stuck in a loop.
During a panic attack it is very common for someone to hyperventilate and it can often prolong the panic attack. That’s why so much importance is placed on breathing when dealing with anxiety and panic. Shallow breathing can also be responsible for other anxiety symptoms such feeling lightheaded, heart palpitations, chest pains and feeling dizzy. It can also alter the way we think and provide difficulty when trying to focus.
The short term benefits of controlling the breathing are helpful and that’s why it’s promoted so widely, but I personally feel that too much importance is placed on trying to ‘control’ the breathing and it applies heavy pressure on the anxiety sufferer.
When we are anxious it is common to be very self-aware/hypersensitive to any changes or abnormalities that occur in our bodies. I feel that focusing on abnormal breathing often creates a negative effect as it can often lead to panic and hyperventilation.
Although it causes other symptoms, shallow breathing isn’t particularly dangerous and you’ll actually find that it ‘disappears’ when you deal with the core of the problem. It’s an anxiety problem, not a breathing problem.
If you’re concerned or worried about your symptoms then why not check into the Panic Room for an appointment?
For quick, accessible and easy-to-understand information on overcoming your anxiety or panic disorder why not purchase the book? – Anxiety: Panicking about Panic