Published On By Rachel Nall

Asthma AnxietyAnxiety and asthma often occur together and can complicate each other’s effects. Asthma inflames the airways, making it difficult to breathe, while anxiety brings constant worry and fear.

Anxiety is mainly a mental health issue, but it could also cause physical symptoms such as breathing problems. This could make existing asthma symptoms worse.

On the flip side, people with asthma might feel more anxious about their breathing, which creates a tough cycle affecting both their physical and emotional well-being.

Anxiety-induced triggers such as stress and panic can worsen asthma symptoms, while uncontrolled breathing issues can lead to increased anxiety levels.

Learning how Anxiety and Asthma could affect each other and ways to manage them is essential.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety involves a mix of emotions, from fear to unease, that can disrupt daily life. It often comes with physical symptoms like a faster heart rate, sweating, and tense muscles, making its impact even stronger.

Everyone experiences anxiety differently, whether it’s having panic attacks or feeling nervous in social situations, especially after traumatic events. This could create unique challenges for people dealing with long-term anxiety.

Anxiety could also make respiratory conditions like asthma more difficult to manage, adding to the struggles of staying healthy.

Recognizing and addressing anxiety is critical for maintaining well-being and effectively managing chronic health issues.

Relation Between Asthma & Anxiety

Anxiety-induced Asthma

Anxiety-induced asthma can be a complex condition where emotional distress triggers or worsens asthma symptoms. The table below provides a snapshot of the relationship between anxiety and asthma and how anxiety-induced asthma can manifest:

Symptoms Asthma Anxiety
Physical Inflammation of airways, shortness of breath, wheezing Difficulty controlling fears, muscle tension
Emotional Feelings of chest tightness, coughing Difficulty concentrating, rapid heart rate
Triggers Allergens, smoke, exercise, cold air Stress, panic attacks, social situations
Emergency Signs Severe breathing difficulties, rapid breathing Panic disorders, choking sensations
Management Strategies Inhalers, avoiding triggers, asthma action plan Therapy, relaxation techniques, stress management

How Asthma Can Lead to Anxiety?

The relationship between asthma and anxiety might create a challenging cycle, impacting both physical and emotional health.

Here are three ways asthma can cause anxiety:

  • Fear of Asthma Attacks: The worry about having asthma attacks, especially in public or unfamiliar places, could increase anxiety levels. Not knowing when an asthma attack might happen might lead to constant worry, affecting mental well-being.
  • Limits on Daily Activities: Asthma symptoms and the need for monitoring and management could restrict daily activities. This limitation might result in frustration, isolation, and anxiety about not being able to fully participate in work, school, or social activities like others.
  • Impact on Social Interactions: Dealing with asthma during social situations, such as needing to use inhalers or feeling short of breath during conversations, can trigger self-consciousness and anxiety. Feeling judged or stigmatized by others could further contribute to anxiety for people managing asthma.

Asthma Symptoms Vs. Anxiety Symptoms

When someone has asthma, they might have trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing, or feel tightness in their chest. These problems might worsen at night, and some asthma medicines could make sleeping hard.

On the other hand, anxiety is a mental health issue that might cause physical problems like feeling scared all the time, having trouble focusing, feeling restless, tired, cranky, or having tense muscles.

One common type of anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), where people worry a lot for a long time. During anxiety or panic attacks, some people may feel like they can’t breathe well, similar to how it might feel with asthma.

Panic attacks can also make people feel like they can’t breathe or might even feel like they’re choking, which can make it tricky to know if it’s asthma or anxiety causing the problem.

Seeing a doctor is essential to find out if it’s asthma, anxiety, or both causing the symptoms. Understanding what’s happening can help people get the proper treatment to feel better and have a good quality of life.


Treatment Options for Asthma & Anxiety Together

  1. Medical Treatments

    When it comes to treating both asthma and anxiety, there are different medications to target their specific symptoms. Here are some common medical treatments for asthma:

    • Quick-relief inhaler: This helps manage and prevent asthma attacks by providing immediate relief during breathing difficulties.
    • Corticosteroids: These medications come in oral, inhaled, or intravenous forms and help reduce airway inflammation, making breathing easier.
    • Biologic injections: In severe cases of asthma that don’t respond to other medications, biologic injections can target specific pathways in the immune system to control asthma symptoms effectively.

    For anxiety, treatment usually involves a combination of these options:

    • Talk therapy (psychotherapy): Approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are commonly used to address anxious thoughts and behaviors.
    • Medications: Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants can help manage anxiety symptoms and improve overall well-being.
    • Beta-blockers: propranolol and atenolol could sometimes be prescribed to manage physical symptoms of anxiety, like rapid heartbeat and trembling.
  2. Other Treatments

    Aside from medications, complementary therapies like breathing exercises could help manage both asthma and anxiety. These exercises include belly/diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing, which may help retrain breathing patterns and improve lung function, reducing asthma symptoms.

    Mindful breathing practices like the 7-7-7 technique—inhaling for 7 counts, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 7 counts—can help alleviate anxiety-induced asthma symptoms. Alongside breathing exercises, maintaining a routine of regular exercise, ample rest, and a balanced diet can further enhance the management of anxiety-induced asthma.

    Activities like swimming, walking, and biking are recommended for people with exercise-induced asthma, as they can help alleviate anxiety symptoms without worsening asthma.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can Anxiety-Induced Asthma Be Triggered by Specific Phobias or Fears?
    People with anxiety and fear hyperventilate, which might trigger anxiety-induced asthma. Understanding individual triggers is crucial for effective management. P
  2. How Does the Social Environment Impact the Relationship Between Anxiety and Asthma?
    The social environment can significantly impact the relationship between anxiety and asthma by influencing stress levels, support systems, and coping mechanisms. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for effective management and improving overall well-being.
  3. Are There Any Other Therapies That Can Effectively Manage Both Anxiety and Asthma?
    Alternative therapies and holistic approaches can effectively manage both anxiety and asthma. Incorporating techniques like mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture, and herbal remedies alongside traditional treatments can provide a comprehensive approach to addressing these conditions and improving overall well-being.
  4. What Role Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Play in Addressing Anxiety and Asthma Symptoms?
    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) plays a crucial role in addressing symptoms of anxiety and asthma by targeting negative thought patterns and behaviors. It helps people develop coping strategies, manage stress, and improve overall well-being.
  5. How Do Lifestyle Factors Such as Sleep Quality and Nutrition Affect the Severity of Anxiety-Induced Asthma Attacks?
    Lifestyle factors like sleep quality and nutrition play a critical role in influencing the severity of asthma attacks triggered by anxiety. Poor sleep and inadequate nutrition can exacerbate symptoms, while healthy habits can help manage outcomes.


Handling anxiety and asthma at the same time is challenging. Understanding how they affect each other is critical to effective treatment and well-being.

A holistic approach that considers physical and mental health could help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Seeking help from professionals, using the correct medications, and practicing stress-relief techniques and breathing exercises are essential.

With proper care, people might reduce the impact of anxiety-induced asthma and enjoy a fulfilling life.

  • The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
  • It is not recommended to disregard/delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of what you read or accessed through this article.
  • The results may vary from individual to individual.
  • It is recommended to consult your doctor for any underlying medical conditions or if you are on any prescribed medicines before following any tips.

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