Published On By Rachel Nall

Yawning And AnxietyAnxiety may cause different unusual reactions in your body. Sometimes, it could make you yawn more often. This excessive yawning could result from fatigue and might be linked to the body’s attempts to regulate breathing patterns.

Yawning is typically associated with tiredness or boredom. Sometimes, it might serve as a physiological response to the respiratory challenges posed by anxiety.

Hyperventilation is a common occurrence during anxiety episodes that could prompt the body to signal a need for deeper breaths through yawning.

This article discusses the connection between yawning and anxiety, explaining why anxiety could make you yawn. It will also provide practical strategies to minimize the frequency of your yawning.

Why Do We Yawn?

Yawning is a complex physiological phenomenon associated with sleepiness and boredom. It could also be linked to several other functions like:

  • Yawning might help regulate brain temperature, potentially cooling the brain for optimal function.
  • Yawning could also stretch the lung tissue, increasing oxygen intake and maintaining lung health.
  • Yawning may serve as a protective reflex to redistribute a substance that lubricates the lungs.

How Yawning Can Hurt Your Anxiety?

Yawning might worsen anxiety symptoms in people experiencing heightened stress levels. It involves taking in a significant amount of oxygen that may induce hyperventilation.

Due to hyperventilation, forced yawning may not feel complete, causing increased anxiety over its concern.

Yawning could create a false sense of reassurance regarding breathing, potentially masking underlying symptoms like chest pain.

It does not only aggravate existing anxiety, but it might trigger more anxiety attacks due to its association with stress responses.

Causes Of Excessive Yawning

  1. Anxiety

    Yawning is a common symptom of anxiety that might also exacerbate it. People may notice an increase in yawning during anxiety attacks. It may affect people through hyperventilation, which is a common occurrence during an anxiety attack.

    Yawning is a response signal to the brain that a full breath has been taken. Anxiety can lead to a sense of breathlessness that prompts yawning. It is a way for the body to relax during heightened stress. Yawning may also become a coping mechanism for anxiety-induced breathing difficulties in some cases.

  2. Heart Problems

    Extreme yawning might be connected to the vagus nerve at the bottom of your brain running through your heart and stomach. It could be due to an underlying heart issue that may require immediate medical attention, especially if it is accompanied by signs like:

    • Chest pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Upper body discomfort
    • Nausea

    Excessive yawning can act as an early warning sign of heart problems. Recognizing these symptoms is vital in understanding and alerting people to seek medical evaluation promptly.

  3. Stroke

    People who have had a stroke may experience excessive yawning. It aids in regulating and reducing core body and brain temperatures following a brain injury.

    Research indicates that yawning might involve the brain stem connected to the spinal cord. Excessive yawning could occur before or after a stroke.

    Understanding the signs of a stroke is crucial for prompt medical intervention. One mnemonic device commonly used is F.A.S.T.:

    F.A.S.T Symptoms
    Face Drooping lower face, numbness, or inability to smile on one side
    Arm Weakness in an arm or inability to keep it raised
    Speech Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
    Time to call for help Immediate medical attention is necessary if these symptoms are observed
  4. Sleep Problems

    Inadequate sleep could cause excessive yawning. One of the most common reasons for yawning could be fatigue.

    Symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, irritability, and slower reflexes might indicate underlying sleep issues. Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea may go unnoticed and cause yawning.

    Seeking medical advice is crucial for correctly diagnosing and managing sleep problems to alleviate excessive yawning and improve overall health.

  5. Depression

    People with depression may experience excessive yawning due to the side effects of certain anti-depressant medications. It could also be a result of the lack of energy commonly caused by depression.

    Excessive yawning could also be a sign of the body’s response to the neurotransmitter imbalances and hormonal changes that occur with depression.

    It is advised to consult a doctor when experiencing excessive yawning. If necessary, the doctor may prescribe changes in the anti-depressant medication dose or look for underlying reasons for increased yawning episodes.

  6. Epilepsy

    Yawning patterns in people with epilepsy occur in three phases: before, during, or after seizures originating in the temporal lobe.

    It may signal an impending seizure. Yawning may also serve as a marker of seizure termination or recovery. It could be linked to altered brain activity affecting yawning centers.

    People with epilepsy may also experience excessive yawning as a result of the physical and mental fatigue that seizures induce.

  7. Multiple Sclerosis

    Yawning is linked with elevated cortisol levels, a stress hormone that is also associated with anxiety and fatigue. These conditions may induce stress responses.

    Abnormal increase in cortisol levels may serve as a marker for identifying certain neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and early-onset dementia.

    In MS, yawning may also signal the body’s struggle with fatigue and temperature dysregulation, providing valuable insights into this condition.

    M.S. common symptoms include extreme fatigue and numbness or tingling sensations in the body, face, arms, or legs. Other indicative signs of multiple sclerosis may be vision problems, dizziness, and difficulties with walking or balance.

  8. Medications

    People might experience increased levels of yawning due to certain medications. These medications are often attributed to common side effects such as fatigue and drowsiness.

    Some medications that cause excessive yawning include,

    • SSRIs or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and various other types of anti-depressants
    • Antihistamines
    • Some pain relief medications

    It is crucial to consult a doctor if excessive yawning continues while taking these medications.


Strategies To Yawn Less

Yawning is often an involuntary movement. However, you could curb the problem of excessive yawning by addressing hyperventilation.

You could restore the balance between oxygen levels and carbon dioxide by practicing slower, calmer breathing techniques. It may result in a diminished urge to yawn over time.

The following table outlines practical steps to help with excessive yawning:

Strategies to Yawn Less Description
Practice deep breathing exercises Engage in slow, deliberate breaths to regulate oxygen and CO2 levels.
Stay hydrated Proper hydration can help maintain respiratory function and reduce yawning.
Manage stress levels Implement stress-reducing techniques like mindfulness or relaxation methods.
Improve sleep quality Establish a consistent sleep routine to combat fatigue-induced yawning.
Seek professional help Consult a doctor for personalized guidance on anxiety management.

Are Yawning And Anxiety The Same Thing?

Yawning may not traditionally be associated with anxiety. However, when experienced alongside other common anxiety symptoms, yawning could be indicative of an underlying anxiety disorder.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Yawning could be a symptom of anxiety disorders, particularly during anxiety attacks. It may serve as a physical manifestation of the body’s stress response.
  • Hyperventilation may prompt increased yawning to regulate breathing patterns, which may induce anxiety or panic symptoms.
  • Yawning may also worsen anxiety symptoms, potentially creating a cycle of increased anxiety and stress.

How Do You Hyperventilate With Anxiety?

Hyperventilation is a physiological response that occurs during anxiety attacks. It involves rapid breathing and expelling excess carbon dioxide without having enough oxygen intake.

During anxiety attacks, the body may learn to breathe incorrectly, leading to a habitual pattern of over-breathing even in the absence of an immediate stressor.

Hyperventilation might also result from mental control overriding the body’s natural breathing rhythm or poor breathing habits.

Treatment For Yawning

Treatments for excessive yawning vary depending on the root cause. These may include the following:

  • If the excessive yawning is related to a sleep problem, improving sleep hygiene or getting a consultation with a doctor may be beneficial.
  • In cases where yawning is a side effect of medication, a doctor could consider adjusting the dosage or recommend switching to an alternative medication.
  • When excessive yawning indicates an underlying health condition, a doctor will help the person develop a specific treatment to address the issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can Excessive Yawning Be a Sign of a Neurological Disorder?
    Excessive yawning can serve as a potential indicator of neurological disorders like stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. When observed in isolation, without considering anxiety or other factors, it may require further investigation by a health expert to evaluate underlying neurological conditions.
  2. Is There a Connection Between Yawning and Social Anxiety?
    Yawning could be a physiological response that could manifest in social settings. While the exact reason for yawning is not yet established, you may experience more frequent yawning episodes during stressful situations due to social anxiety.
  3. Can Yawning Excessively Affect One’s Ability to Concentrate?
    Excessive yawning can significantly impact concentration by disrupting focus, leading to distractions, and reducing cognitive performance.
  4. Are There Any Cultural Differences in the Perception and Interpretation of Yawning to Anxiety?
    Varied beliefs, norms, and attitudes towards expressions of stress and discomfort shape people’s reactions to yawning. These may impact the understanding and management of anxiety across cultures.
  5. How Does Age Play a Role in the Frequency of Yawning in People With Anxiety Disorders?
    Age might play a significant role in yawning frequency among people with anxiety disorders. Various life stages may influence yawning patterns in connection to anxiety, impacting how people cope with and manifest their anxiety symptoms.


Various physiological and psychological factors could cause excessive yawning. These factors might include anxiety, tiredness, specific medications, or an underlying health issue.

If you yawn frequently, try practicing deep breathing, getting adequate sleep, and staying hydrated.

Avoiding caffeine and removing electronic devices from your bedroom may also minimize potential yawning. However, if the yawning persists, seeking help from a healthcare professional is advised.

  • 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 review.
  • 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 trying any tips or strategies.

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