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How Sleep Apnea Can Cause Anxiety And Panic Attacks

Posted Dec 08 2009 12:23pm

As we approach the most stressful time of the year, the one thing that we all forget to do is to remember to breathe. Literally. Tension and stress causes a nervous system reaction that causes you to take short, shallow breaths, leading to carbon dioxide (CO2) retention. Interestingly, a recent study showed that increased levels of carbon dioxide has been shown to affect areas in the brain that triggers fear and panic attacks.


This makes sense since if you’re chronically oxygen deprived from not breathing at night due to sleep apnea, you’re going to build up carbon dioxide, which can increase the acidity levels in the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that processes fear and behavior. 


This biochemical reaction, along with generalized nervous system over-responsiveness that comes along with inefficient sleep, is a good reason for you to feel over-stressed, over-anxious, and on edge. I’ve also described a situation where your tongue suddenly collapses and obstructs your breathing, and you’ll wake up violently, in a state of panic, in a cold sweat, and with your heart racing. This happens much more commonly than you think.


This study makes me wonder what all the carbonated beverages are doing to us as a society.


What’s you’re take on this? Do you find yourself taking short, shallow breaths or even hold your breath when you’re stressed? Please enter your comments in the box below.

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