Make It Happen Hypnotherapy
Book a FREE Strategy Call

How to Tell if Shortness of Breath is from Anxiety?

How to Tell if Shortness of Breath is from Anxiety

Shortness of breath, medically known as dyspnea, is a common and distressing symptom experienced by many people. It can feel like a tightness in the chest, difficulty in drawing a full breath, or an overall sensation of breathlessness. This condition significantly impacts daily life, making routine activities challenging and sometimes frightening.

Today, you will understand whether your shortness of breath is due to anxiety or another cause. By providing comprehensive information and valuable insights, we aim to encourage you to take the right steps towards improving your well-being.

Definition of Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, refers to the sensation of not being able to breathe well enough. This can appear as a tight feeling in the chest, a struggle to get enough air, or the sensation of smothering. The experience of dyspnea can range from mild to severe and can vary significantly from person to person.

Common Causes of Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath can be a frightening experience, often leaving you wondering if it’s due to a physical ailment or a symptom of anxiety. Understanding the difference is crucial, as anxiety-induced shortness of breath is typically accompanied by other signs of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and a sense of impending doom. It’s important to take note of the context in which these symptoms occur. If they arise in stressful situations or during moments of high emotion, it’s likely that anxiety is the culprit. Some common psychological and physical causes of shortness of breath are:

Psychological Causes

Anxiety and Panic Attacks: Anxiety and panic attacks often lead to hyperventilation (breathing rapidly and deeply). This can upset the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood, causing symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness, and a sensation of breathlessness.

Chronic Stress and Muscle Tension: Prolonged stress can cause chronic muscle tension, particularly in the shoulders, neck, and chest. This tension can restrict your ability to take full, deep breaths, resulting in shallow breathing. Over time, shallow breathing can lead to a feeling of breathlessness and decreased oxygen intake.

Physical Causes

Asthma: A chronic condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to episodes of wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): A group of lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, that cause breathing difficulties due to long-term damage to the lungs.

Heart Failure: A condition where the heart is unable to pump blood effectively, leading to fluid buildup in the lungs and subsequent shortness of breath.

10 Major Symptoms to Tell if Shortness of Breath is from Anxiety

While there are numerous symptoms indicating that shortness of breath is due to anxiety, the most significant ones include:

  • Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
  • A feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating, particularly on the face and hands
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling confused
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Sudden onset without physical exertion
  • Sense of impending doom or fear

Therapeutic Treatment of Anxiety-Related Shortness of Breath

Getting professional help for anxiety-related shortness of breath is important because it ensures you receive the right care for your needs. Therapists can provide thorough treatment plans.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach that focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviours. For anxiety-related shortness of breath, CBT helps you to recognize the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and physical symptoms. By changing maladaptive thinking patterns and developing healthier responses, you can reduce the intensity and frequency of anxiety and related symptoms, including shortness of breath.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a structured program that combines mindfulness meditation to help you manage stress and anxiety. MBSR encourages present-moment awareness and non-judgmental observation of thoughts and sensations. For those experiencing anxiety-related shortness of breath, MBSR can help increase awareness of breathing patterns, reduce overall stress, and promote a sense of calm.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques embrace a variety of practices designed to reduce tension and promote relaxation. These include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and autogenic training. For anxiety-related shortness of breath, relaxation techniques can help calm the nervous system, lower heart rate, and ease breathing difficulties by reducing the physiological arousal associated with anxiety.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are specific techniques aimed at improving breathing patterns and reducing anxiety. Techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, pursed-lip breathing, and box breathing can help you to regain control over your breath. These exercises promote deeper, more efficient breathing and can be particularly effective in managing shortness of breath caused by anxiety, providing immediate relief and improving overall respiratory function.

Clinical Hypnotherapy

Clinical hypnotherapy involves using hypnosis as a therapeutic tool to access the subconscious mind and promote positive changes in thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. During hypnosis, you enter a relaxed state where you are more open to suggestion and imagery. For anxiety-related shortness of breath, clinical hypnotherapy can help address underlying psychological factors contributing to anxiety, such as past traumas or negative beliefs. By accessing the subconscious mind, hypnotherapy aims to reframe perceptions, reduce anxiety levels, and promote relaxation.

Havening Techniques

Havening Techniques is a psychosensory therapy that aims to disrupt the pathway of traumatic memories and reduce associated distress. It involves gentle touch and distraction techniques to induce a state of relaxation and trigger the release of feel-good hormones in the brain. For anxiety-related shortness of breath, Havening Techniques can help you to process and neutralize anxiety-provoking memories or triggers, leading to a reduction in overall anxiety levels and associated physical symptoms.

How to Choose the Right Therapy?

When it comes to addressing anxiety related shortness of breath, selecting the most effective therapy can make all the difference. Compared to conventional talk therapies, which may work for some people, Hypnotherapy and Havening operates on a different level, working directly with the powerful subconscious where the root of the problem often lies. This approach allows for more effective and lasting resolution of anxiety symptoms. Hypnotherapy’s unique ability to reframe negative thought patterns and reduce subconscious triggers makes it a much more effective treatment for many individuals struggling with anxiety-induced shortness of breath.

Here are the advantages of hypnotherapy in treating shortness of breath triggered by anxiety:

  • Enhances breathing techniques to manage shortness of breath
  • Lowers overall stress levels, reducing physical symptoms
  • Reduces anxiety by promoting relaxation and calmness
  • Addresses underlying psychological causes of anxiety
  • Helps reframe negative thoughts and beliefs
  • Increases self-awareness and mindfulness
  • Provides a sense of control over anxiety and its symptoms
  • Encourages positive behavioural changes
  • Reduces the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks
  • Promotes a sense of well-being and inner peace
  • Reduces muscle tension associated with anxiety
  • Strengthens the mind-body connection for holistic healing


If you’re experiencing shortness of breath and suspect it might be related to anxiety, it’s essential to pay attention to associated symptoms like rapid breathing, chest tightness, and dizziness. Seeking professional help along with practising relaxation techniques and breathing exercises, can significantly alleviate anxiety-related shortness of breath and improve overall well-being.

We Make It Happen Hypnotherapy (MIHH) specialize in helping individuals manage anxiety through personalized hypnotherapy sessions. Our approach can help you regain control over your breathing and reduce anxiety symptoms, leading to a healthier, more balanced life.

Book a Free Consultation and take the first step towards better mental well-being.

Welcome to Make It Happen Hypnotherapy

30 Minutes FREE Strategy Zoom Call

Book your 100% FREE no-obligation 30-minute Strategy Zoom Call with our Senior Therapist (Sandy Wong) that could help you flip the switch on rewriting your subconscious script.

What To Expect:

We will share with you how we integrate cutting-edge advanced mind tools to create lifelong changes.

You’ll be getting a fully customized breakdown of how to transform your life in many areas which has been effectively used to change the lives of hundreds of people like you. 


Our Clinical Hypnotherapists will guide you into a state of trance similar to daydreaming. By working with your subconscious mind, we will find out the underlying causes of your emotional suffering, and establish desired outcomes for you. To achieve this, we will use various techniques like Inner Child Therapy, Regression, Parts Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Rewind Technique, and more.