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Excessive Yawning Anxiety Symptoms

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: February 21, 2020


excessive yawning anxiety symptom image

Yawning, both frequent and excessive yawning, can be a symptom of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and others.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your anxiety symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test or Anxiety Disorder Test. The higher the rating, the more likely it could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms, including excessive yawning.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and frequent or excessive yawning.

Excessive yawning anxiety symptoms description:

This anxiety symptom is often described as:

  • Feel like you have to yawn all the time
  • Feeling out of breath
  • Feeling short of breath anxiety
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Feel like you can’t catch your breath
  • Excessive yawning and shortness of breath
  • Feeling smothered
  • Feel like you can’t breathe deep enough
  • Feel like your breathing is labored
  • You have become conscious of your breathing and how you breathe
  • You find yourself having to yawn much more often than usual.
  • You are yawning all the time.
  • No matter how much sleep you get, you feel like you have to yawn all day long.
  • You constantly have a shortness of breath feeling, which makes you yawn.

You find yourself doing an unusual amount of yawning in an attempt to catch your breath.

Excessive yawning anxiety symptoms can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you experience excessive yawning once and a while and not that often, yawn off and on, or feel like yawning it all the time.

Excessive yawning anxiety symptoms can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Excessive yawning anxiety symptoms can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and stress, or occur "out of the blue" and for no apparent reason.

Excessive yawning anxiety symptoms can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves where you feel like you have to yawn one moment but not the next.

Excessive yawning anxiety symptoms can change from day to day and from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

Excessive yawning anxiety symptoms can seem more disconcerting when undistracted or when trying to rest or go to sleep.


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Why does anxiety cause excessive yawning?

Medical Advisory

Anxiety stresses the body. Stress causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it—which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.[1][2]

Part of these stress changes include increasing heart rate, respiration, and tightening the body’s muscles so that it is better able to deal with a threat. A change in heart rate, breathing, and tight chest muscles can make it seem like you are short of breath, which can cause excessive yawning. Many people notice they yawn when nervous or anxious.

For more information, visit our "shortness of breath" anxiety symptom.

When stress is infrequent, the body can recover relatively quickly. When stress occurs too frequently, however, the body has a difficult time recovering. Incomplete recovery can cause the body to remain in a state of semi stress response readiness, which we call stress-response hyperstimulation.[3][4] A body that becomes chronically stressed can exhibit symptoms of stress, such as excessive yawning.

How to get rid of anxiety-caused excessive yawning?

When excessive yawning is caused by being anxious, calming yourself down will bring an end to the stress response and its changes. As the body recovers from the active stress response, excessive yawning should subside.

Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. This is normal and needn’t be a cause for concern.

When excessive yawning is caused by chronic stress, it could take a lot longer for the body to recover and to the point where excessive yawning subsides.

Nevertheless, when you’ve eliminated chronic stress, this symptom should subside. Therefore, the excessive yawning anxiety symptoms needn’t be a cause for concern.

You can accelerate the recovery process by reducing your stress, practicing relaxed diaphragmatic breathing, increasing your rest, getting regular light to moderate exercise, and not worrying about the excessive yawning.

Therapy

If you are having difficulty with anxiety, its symptoms, and troublesome worry, you might want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome problematic anxiety.

All of our recommended therapists have experienced anxiety disorder, have successfully overcome it, and are medication-free. Their years of personal and professional experience make them an excellent choice to work with on your road to recovery.

Visit our "Why Therapy" and "What Makes Our Therapists Unique" articles for more information.


 



The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Disorder Symptoms section.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and coaching/therapy for problematic anxiety and its symptoms, including excessive yawning.


REFERENCES:

1. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

2. Folk, Jim and Folk, Marilyn. “The Stress Response And Anxiety Symptoms.” anxietycentre.com, August 2019.

3. Hannibal, Kara E., and Mark D. Bishop. “Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2014.

4. Justice, Nicholas J., et al. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-Like Induction Elevates β-Amyloid Levels, Which Directly Activates Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Neurons to Exacerbate Stress Responses.” Journal of Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience, 11 Feb. 2015.