Theories about panic attacks and breathing

If the gas exchange in our body is out of balance- i.e. not enough Oxygen or too much Carbon Dioxide - the respiratory centre in the brain picks this up as a threat, that there is something wrong. The brain ‘suffocation alarm’ can then trigger the body’s response to threat - the ‘fight or flight’ response. This affects our thinking and increases our worry about what is happening which then affects our breathing.

Brain suffocation alarm (threat alarm) → Catastrophic Thoughts Fight/Flight → Hyperventilation Too much CO2