During an anxiety attack, you may feel like you cannot breathe. This may cause you to take in extra breaths at too fast a rate and cause you to hyperventilate. Hyperventilation can cause a wide range of other symptoms and even increase the anxiety, instead of help it. This article will help you understand hyperventilation associated with anxiety and give you some techniques to help you deal with it when it happens.
Hyperventilation occurs when we take too many breaths and raise our oxygen levels too high. The carbon dioxide levels drop too low in our bodies and we experience dizziness, more anxiety, numbness and tingling in the extremities and possibly fainting.
When these symptoms occur, there are a few techniques that can help slow the breathing and regulate the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. These techniques include:
Try Breathing slowly into a paper bag. Place a paper bag over your mouth and breathe slowly and deeply for 8 to 10 breaths. Then take the bag off and breathe normal air very slowly. This should reverse the hyperventilation quickly.
Only take a breath every 5 seconds and hold for 5 seconds. Count to five slowly as you are breathing in then count to five slowly as you exhale. After you exhale all of your breath, count to five before you take your next breath. This will help carbon dioxide levels to rise in the blood.
Try breathing through pursed lips. Breathing through pursed lips can slow the rate of breathing down. It is harder to inhale and harder to exhale. This gives time for the carbon dioxide levels to build back up in the blood stream.
If you are in a higher altitude, decrease your activity levels. Above 6,000 feet elevation oxygen levels drop and the air is thinner. If you are doing strenuous activity at a high altitude your body will increase the rate of breathing to raise oxygen levels. If you notice symptoms of hyperventilation at a high altitude, your body is signaling you to take a break and rest. If you suffer from anxiety and are traveling to a higher altitude than normal you need to give yourself time to acclimate.
Close your eyes and visualize a calm environment. If you hyperventilate due to anxiety, you need to calm the anxiety first. Stop whatever you are doing and close your eyes. Picture something calm. Take some slow deep breaths and just try to relax your entire body.
Hyperventilation with anxiety is probably one of the easiest symptoms to control. Taking slow deep breaths and increasing your carbon dioxide levels will stop hyperventilation quickly.