Asthma, Anxiety, and Stress

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on March 08, 2024
3 min read

If you’ve been living with symptoms of asthma even for a short period of time, it’s still important to seek asthma help. You can get help from experts such as your doctor or an asthma specialist and from other people who have asthma.

The repeated bouts of coughing, congestion, wheezing, and gasping for breath can cause anyone to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and even defeated. Living with asthma symptoms can result in tremendous stress. Likewise, added stress can trigger asthma symptoms. 

But with the right help, you can have an active life, doing the things you enjoy with your asthma under control.

When you're stressed, you may notice an increase in signs of anxiety and asthma. As your wheezing and coughing get worse, you get more anxious, which only ramps up your asthma symptoms. This makes for a vicious cycle that can spiral downward quickly. Learn about the link between anxiety and asthma, and talk to your doctor or a professional counselor about ways to reduce your anxiety to better control your asthma.

Although stress doesn’t cause asthmastress and asthma are definitely linked. Asthma causes stress, and stress makes it more difficult to control asthma. Even daily stress can make your asthma symptoms worse. Learning to change your stress response to decrease your asthma symptoms is important. It’s equally important to prioritize your daily schedule so you have enough time to get everything done without feeling pressured or overwhelmed.

The longer breathing problems go uncontrolled, the more likely you’ll notice the signs caused by stress. This can make it hard to breathe and could cause other problems, like:

There’s a better way to live with asthma and prevent asthma symptoms. Learn all about stress and your stress response. Set goals to manage your stress in a way that’s healthy and not detrimental to your breathing.

Getting support when you have asthma is important. The people around you -- family members, friends, co-workers -- can all help. These people should know what to do in case you have a severe asthma emergency. They should also know you can control and manage your asthma. 

You can find support with asthma through online organizations, such as the WebMD asthma message boards, support groups in your community, and by staying in touch with others who have asthma. Talking to others can help ease some of the stress you might feel.

Asthma and smoking don’t belong together in any way. If you have asthma and smoke, talk openly with your doctor about ways to stop smoking. Not only does smoking increase your asthma symptoms -- coughing, increased mucus, and wheezing -- it also raises your risk of lung cancerthroat canceremphysema (another lung disease), heart diseasehigh blood pressure, ulcers, gum disease, and more. 

New drugs for smoking cessation are two to three times more effective than nicotine gum but require a prescription. Stopping smoking will likely prolong your life, and you may need less medication to keep your asthma well controlled.