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How to Tell If Shortness of Breath Is From Anxiety

By Mosh
Treat Mental Health
6 min read
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Key Takeaways

Anxiety can have various causes and symptoms, making it challenging to self-diagnose. Shortness of breath can be a symptom of anxiety, but it's essential to consult a doctor to rule out other potential medical conditions. Mosh offers online consultations with doctors who can provide support, diagnosis, and personalized treatment plans, including medication if necessary. If shortness of breath is accompanied by certain symptoms or becomes severe, immediate medical attention should be sought.

There are so many causes of anxiety, making it hard to find a way to take care of your mental health. Anxiety can take many forms and manifest in different ways, so it’s not always easy to identify which symptoms are caused by anxiety or a different health problem. In fact, many people look up ‘How to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety?’ online but don’t know if they have anxiety or not. 

It’s difficult to tell if you have anxiety without the help of a doctor. Self-diagnosing can lead to unnecessary worry and stress. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of social anxiety or symptoms of depression, it’s best to see a doctor for the support you need. 

Mosh is an online health platform where you can connect with doctors online rather than in a traditional clinic. Our online consultations are more convenient and flexible, allowing you to consult a doctor at a time and place you’re comfortable with. You may speak with a Mosh doctor from the privacy of your home, giving you peace of mind that your information will remain confidential.

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What is anxiety?

Anxiety is characterised by a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness. It can lead to sweating, restlessness, tenseness, and a fast heartbeat.[1] Anxiety can be a normal reaction to stress, which can help you cope by gaining energy or focus. But people with anxiety disorders have an overwhelming sense of fear that doesn’t go away and can worsen.

Can shortness of breath be a symptom of anxiety?

Panic-like symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and difficulty breathing often accompany anxiety. It’s not surprising why many wonder how to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety. 

Anxiety is connected to fear; the brain is programmed to respond to danger with a fight-or-flight response. This could trigger the body to react by pumping more blood to the muscles in preparation for fighting or escaping and cause breathing difficulties, like shortness of breath.[2]

While shortness of breath is a symptom of anxiety, it can also be a sign of a serious medical condition, so it’s important to make sure that the symptoms you experience are not caused by something else. Your Mosh doctor may first rule out other potential causes for your shortness of breath, such as lung or heart problems.

For your Mosh doctor to know how to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety, they will consider various factors, including your medical history, genetics, medications, and lifestyle. Your doctor may also ask about your symptoms and how long you’ve had them. They’ll also consider the different types of anxiety to see if the results from your assessment match any of them. 

How do I quickly relieve shortness of breath due to anxiety?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to ‘How to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety?’ or ‘What does anxiety feel like?’ but if you’re having difficulty breathing, here are some things you can do to relieve it: 

  • Take slow, deep breaths and focus on breathing from your diaphragm while lying your back on a flat surface with your knees bent.[3] 
  • Try pursed-lip breathing by slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.[4]
  • Change different positions every thirty minutes. Try lying on your side, standing up while leaning forward, or leaning forward while sitting.[5]

You should contact a doctor if your shortness of breath doesn’t go away after doing breathing techniques. It can be a symptom of a number of different medical conditions, some of which can be serious. It’s important to have any new or worsening symptoms evaluated by a doctor.

Depending on what your condition requires, your Mosh doctor may simply provide evidence-based advice on how to get rid of anxiety or how to calm anxiety. They may also recommend a personalised mental health treatment plan, if it’s what you need, to improve your chances of effectively managing your mental health concern. 

When should I consider getting a test for shortness of breath?

Even if you’re still unsure how to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety, it’s important to know when you should seek immediate medical attention or get tested for the symptoms you’re experiencing. Get a test if your shortness of breath is accompanied by:

  • trouble breathing when you lie down;
  • a high temperature;
  • inflammation in your feet and ankles;
  • chills
  • coughing
  • worsening of existing shortness of breath issues.[6] 

Seek emergency medical care if you experience severe shortness of breath with chest pain, fainting, nausea, or bluish lips or nails. Severe shortness of breath that suddenly impairs your ability to function may be a sign of a heart attack, pulmonary embolism,[7] or another serious health problem.

With the many possible causes of shortness of breath, it’s only normal that most people have plenty of other questions besides ‘How to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety?’ Some may ask what it means to have panic attack symptoms or shortness of breath that comes and goes. Whatever health-related concerns or questions you may have, Mosh doctors will happily address them for you. 

You can text your doctor for any additional questions you may have related to your Mosh mental health treatment plan or if you have a different health concern. Because you get ongoing consultations at Mosh, your doctor can monitor your progress to the treatment you’re taking, if any. They can also adjust your treatment plan as your needs change and address new concerns you’re having as soon as possible. 

While shortness of breath has many possible causes, it can also be a symptom of anxiety. Your Mosh doctor can improve your chances of getting the confirmation you seek on how to tell if shortness of breath is from anxiety. Various Mosh treatment options are available that may help you get the results you want. Feel free to ask your doctor about the options available to you. 

Our doctors are also qualified to help men with health concerns such as hair loss, weight loss, and erectile dysfunction. Our online doctor consultations can offer a higher level of privacy than in-person visits because you can consult with your doctor from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to worry about being seen or overheard by other patients in the waiting room anymore. 

Mental health can be a sensitive topic, and some people may feel vulnerable discussing it. No need to rush; Mosh will always be here to help you whenever you feel ready to talk about your mental health concerns.


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