Anxiety-Induced Asthma and Asthma-Induced Anxiety: A Vicious Cycle

Anxiety and asthma are often linked. If you have anxiety-induced asthma and/or asthma-induced anxiety, here’s how to break the cycle.

Woman suffering from anxiety induced asthma

If you have asthma and anxiety, each of these conditions could be making the other worse.

Chelsea Clark co-authored this article.

If you have asthma and anxiety, each of these conditions could be making the other worse. You could be suffering from anxiety-induced asthma, and asthma could be making anxiety worse, too. Treating both of these conditions with natural solutions will help you to relieve your symptoms most effectively.

Anxiety and Asthma are Each Risk Factors For the Other

In a study on over 45,000 people, it was found that asthma was an independent risk factor for having anxiety, and also that anxiety was an independent risk factor for asthma, suggesting that each may contribute to the other.[1]

This means that if you have one of these conditions, you have a pretty high chance of having the other, too. In one study, 36.9% of the people with asthma also had anxiety.[2]

Anxiety-Induced Asthma: Anxiety Can Make Asthma Symptoms Worse

For those with asthma, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that when you are more stressed or anxious, the worse your asthma tends to be.

Anxiety has been associated with lower scores on the Asthma Control Test and asthma quality of life questionnaires.[2,3]

Researchers did a test on people with asthma that narrows the airways, which is helpful in diagnosing asthma symptoms. They found that people who had anxiety were more likely to use descriptors of breathlessness, and they were more likely to experience dyspnea, or difficulty breathing, than people without anxiety.[3]

Anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of experiencing anxiety, is also related to the severity of asthma. People with greater anxiety sensitivity tend to have worse asthma symptoms and reduced lung function.[4]

Depression Is Also Associated With Asthma

One study found that 11% of the people with asthma also had depression.[2] Another found that people with depression had a 3.4 higher chance of having asthma.[5]

And depression seems to make asthma worse, too. Depression is associated with reduced asthma control and reduced quality of life, according to numerous studies.[2,3]

How to Control Your Anxiety and Your Asthma

If you have asthma, addressing anxiety may help you to better control your asthma symptoms. And vice versa: controlling asthma may help you to reduce your anxiety levels. Natural solutions can help you to manage your stress-induced asthma symptoms and to break the cycle.

To treat anxiety, there are a variety of all-natural strategies available. Try supplements like passionflower or ashwagandha, for example. In many cases, a GABA deficiency can contribute to anxiety.

Share Your Experiences with Asthma and Anxiety

Do you have anxiety asthma? Do you find that each contributes to the other? What do you do to break the cycle? Share our experience in the comments section below.

[1] J Affect Disord. 2016 Jan 1;189:98-105.
[2] Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2015 Nov;115(5):408-14.
[3] Allergy Asthma Proc. 2015 Nov;36(6):447-57.
[4] Behav Modif. 2015 Sep 24. [Epub ahead of print]
[5] J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2015 Nov 7. pii: S2213-2198(15)00568-1.

Originally published in 2015, this post is regularly updated by the editors of University Health News.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Kathleen Jade, ND

Dr. Kathleen Jade is a naturopathic physician and served for many years as the Medical Director and Editor-In-Chief of Natural Health Advisory Institute. She has been licensed as a primary … Read More

View all posts by Kathleen Jade, ND

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