Anxiety attack breathing is one of the most disturbing symptoms of anxiety attacks. As anyone who has experienced an anxiety attack or panic attack can tell you, in the throes on an attack their breathing is rapid, shallow and it feels like they can not get enough air.
People breathing this way lower the amount of carbon dioxide in their blood. This causes them to feel lightheaded and to have tingling in their hands and feet. These additional symptoms aggravate the anxiety attack and the sense of panic.
For reasons that are not strictly clear, people with anxiety attacks (also called panic attacks) have a physical response as if their very lives are in danger even though nothing really threaten them.
The best way to avoid anxiety attack breathing is to avoid the anxiety attack in the first place. As I'll mention later, that is possible. Right now, I'll talk about breathing techniques a person can use to take control of their breath and avoid some of the distress.
The main thing is to practice this breathing when you do not need it so it will be easier to do when an attack begins.
To begin, most people breath using their chests. This does not fill their lungs completely.
Instead, people should breath with their diaphragm.
This fills the lungs completely. Also, this is a type of breathing that the body associates with relaxation. If you breath like this as a panic attack begins you give the body a message that all is well. This conflicts with the message of the anxiety attack and may actually be able to head off the anxiety attack.
Some people have been chest breathing for so long that they have trouble relearning how to use their diaphragm. One way to practice is to lie down and put your hand on your stomach. Now breathe in in a way that forces your stomach to expand and your hand to rise.
To do that you will have to use your diaphragm.
Once you discover what feels like, practice it for some slow, deep breaths. Then practice it while you're sitting or standing. You want this to become second nature for you.
A good idea is to take ten deep diaphragmatic breaths multiple times every day. Not only is this good practice, it's good for your health in general.
Once you've developed this skill, you can use it to consciously control your breath at the earliest stages of an anxiety attack. This will help you avoid some of the most distressing symptoms.
Another advantage is that focusing on your breathing distracts you from focusing on your anxiety. This will also help blunt the attack.