When anxiety makes you feel like you can't breathe



This week we’re talking about the fear of suffocation and hyperventilation.

A few members of our private Facebook group have shared their fear of suffocation or hyperventilation and one shared how this fear became an anxiety trigger after suffering a panic attack where they felt they couldn’t breathe. Months later that fear of not being able to breathe is still an anxiety trigger.


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Points Covered in this Episode:

Anxiety and the Fear of the Fear

How the mind looks for feelings that are similar to the bad experience you had and sends you warning anxiety.

Finding Hope and Help

Overcoming anxiety around breathing is very possible

  • it starts with understanding what’s going on
  • then learning tools to release the trauma of the triggering event
  • and breathing practices to help you build confidence in your body’s consistent ability to breathe freely

How the Intense Anxiety of a Panic Attack leads to hyper-vigilance

When we suffer a trauma, which is what a panic attack feels like, our sub-conscious mind will seek to protect us from it ever happening to us again. It usually does that by warning us that something approaching that experience is coming. It looks for anything similar to your past bad experience, and it fixates on it.

We need to teach our mind that we have got this and look for differences to the triggering negative experience. In other words, we need to build on new relaxed breathing experiences and draw our mind’s attention to them. This is where mindful breathing can be very helpful.

How to support yourself

Practice self-compassion. You aren’t a fool, and you aren’t weak. You are bravely coping with something nobody would be happy with.

Learn Tapping to help you clear any traumatic events that feed the anxiety around breathing and also for the daily anxiety of watching or fixating on your breath.

Please listen to the full episode for an example of how to do this.

Learn some breathing practices to help you work with your breath to calm anxiety and develop confidence in your breath. 


We made an album of guided Anxiety Relief Breathing Practices called Breathe. You can find it on Amazon, or CD Baby. We recommend downloading a guided practice and keeping it on your phone or an MP3 player so you can listen and follow along anytime you have anxiety around breathing.

Guided Tapping session for Anxiety about Breathing

Listen to the full podcast to following along with Ananga's guided tapping session for

  • fear of hyperventilating, or suffocating
  • and anxiety about not being able to breathe

To find out more about Tapping for Anxiety Relief have a look at our course at the Anxiety Slayer Academy