Hi FL, this is a really common complaint with anxiety suffers...yes I have had this struggle, and yes, the more you focus on it the worse it can get.
If you practice daily breathing exercises it will help you when this symptom occurs. There are some good ones in our Anxiety Resource Guide. I have a favorite one that I will share here as well...
The Divided Breath:
Think of your lungs as having 3 equal parts: the top third, middle third, and bottom third. In one continuous breath, but divided into 3 parts, fill first the bottom and pause, then fill the middl/pause, and finally the fill the top third and hold if possible for a second or two. Exhale in the same manner, but reverse. Let out the top, then the middle, then the bottom third of lungs-remember to pause slightly after each part-finally pushing all the air out of the bottom third of your lungs to complete the cycle. Don't worry if you can't manage the whole cycle at first, it will get easier. The pauses will get more controlled, and you may be able to hold the breath for 3-5 seconds before the exhale, eventually.
This will prevent rapid/shallow breathing (hyperventilation) and put you in control of your breathing again, until your anxiety levels drop, and it becomes normal/automatic again:)
This has helped me through a lot of breathing episodes. Remember that breathing is an automatic response...until our anxiety gets in the way! Practicing these techniques will really help get it back to normal.
I hope that you are feeling better soon!
"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"
"It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends"
Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT