Strong Emotions, Stress and Depression Can Trigger Asthma

Strong emotions and stress are well known triggers of asthma. There is evidence of a link between asthma, anxiety and depression, though the outcomes are sometimes not consistent. Anxiety and depression may be associated with poor asthma control.

Feeling and expressing strong emotions may cause asthma symptoms if you have asthma. When you feel strong emotions, your breathing changes – even if you don’t have asthma.

Some examples of strong emotions that can trigger asthma symptoms are:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Excitement
  • Laughter
  • Yelling
  • Crying

It is not the emotion itself that causes the asthma symptoms. Instead, your breathing changes during strong emotions. This causes muscles to tighten up or your breathing rate to increase.

  • Laughing is part of the joy of life and should not be discouraged. If laughter is an asthma trigger for you, talk with your health care provider about your asthma treatment.
  • Find ways to stay calm and express yourself without yelling. Remember to breathe deeply and slowly when feeling stressed, upset or angry.

Stress and anxiety can trigger asthma symptoms. By properly managing stress, patients can reduce their risk of having a stress-induced asthma attack or episode. Studies show that mindful breathing and observation can reduce stress and enhance overall health.

Techniques such as mindful breathing and observation can help patients manage stress.

Two Tips for Stress Reduction

Mindful Breathing

  1. Start by breathing in and out slowly.
  2. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow easily.
  3. Try inhaling for 7 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds and letting your breath out for 7 seconds.
  4. While focusing on your breathing, try to let go of other thoughts and just be in the moment.
  5. Try doing this for three rounds.


  1. Pick an object from nature that’s around you.
  2. Focus on watching it for a minute or two.
  3. This could be a tree, insect or even the clouds or the moon.
  4. Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are looking at.
  5. Look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time.
  6. Just relax into this observation for as long as your focus allows.


Asthma care for Adults
Knowing how to manage asthma is important for better health and quality of life. We offer an online course called ASTHMA Care for Adults. This comprehensive program covers a full range of topics everyone with asthma needs to know. This self-paced online course is presented in different formats, such as videos, animations, handouts and more.

Medical Review August 2018.