Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome (also called HVS) is a common cause of anxiety. The relationship between anxiety and breathing is complicated. When we feel anxious, our breathing tends to increase and become shallow, from the chest. If we live our lives in a slight state of anxiety and habitually breathe from the chest then our oxygen and carbon dioxide levels get out of balance. This habit of bad breathing is called Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome.
Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome has a long list of nasty symptoms but few people experience them all. In the emotional/mental health arena the most common symptoms are anxiety, panic attacks, fearfulness and phobias, depression and low mood, chronic fatigue and low sex drive or impotence.
Many more Chronic Hyperventilation symptoms are also linked to anxiety, such as IBS and migraines.
The chest tightness and difficulty breathing that often accompanies anxiety and panic attacks are signs of hyperventilation. When we over-breathe we tend to gasp for breath and then feel like we can’t breathe and so try to breathe more. This vicious circle needs to be broken.
The best way to overcome Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome is to go through a process of breath retraining. To do that, I recommend reading the seminal work on the subject:Hyperventilation Syndrome: Breathing Pattern Disorders and How to Overcome Them USA version Hyperventilation Syndrome: Breathing Pattern Disorder UK / Europe version and Self-Help for Hyperventilation Syndrome: Recognizing and Correcting Your Breathing Pattern Disorder USA version. The author of these books, Dinah Bradley, is a worldwide authority on Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome.
Some doctors don’t really accept the existence of Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome, but many people have found that changing their breathing habits make a huge difference to their lives, and their anxiety.