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How do paper bags help with panic attacks?

105 Answers
Last Updated: 06/22/2020 at 5:19pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
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Top Rated Answers
December 25th, 2015 9:18pm
It's all about breathing. When having a panic attack, you need to control your breathing or you'll hyperventilate. Breathing into a paper bag helps to keep your breathing normal.
December 27th, 2015 7:56am
When you have a panic attack generally you are short on breath or breathing to fast, so I belive a paper bag will help you to control your breathing
January 3rd, 2016 8:51am
When we have panic attacks, our levels of carbon dioxide drop. By breathing into a paper bag we are trapping the carbon dioxide and therefore breathing it back in.
January 23rd, 2016 8:01pm
They actually helps by resetting your CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels in your blood. Frequently when you are having a panic attack you hyperventilate which can exacerbate the anxiety and also add extra physical sensations. If you don't have a paper bag, fear not, there is another exercise which you can do to reset your carbon dioxide levels as well. Breathe in from your nose for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, then exhale out of your mouth for eight seconds then repeat around 10 times. 4-7-8 breathing is an excellent tool to use and while it may be hard at first to execute, I can promise it is a life saver!
January 29th, 2016 5:53am
they help you focus on your breathing more
April 10th, 2016 11:12pm
Pursued lip breathing and breathing into paper bags help with reducing anxiety. People who are having anxiety attacks are expelling too many carbons at a time therefore breathing into a paper bag or doing pursed lip breathing are expelling minimum amount or or the regular amount of carbons at a time. Breathing into a paper bag forces the person to expel the carbons they are exchanged with a person, and they release the correct amount.
June 6th, 2017 7:16pm
It has to do with the diaphragm I believe. It kind of forces you to breathe deeper and breathing exercises help with anxiety.
June 12th, 2018 3:27am
In fact, emergency room physicians often tell people suffering panic attacks to breathe into paper bags on the theory that rebreathing exhaled, carbon dioxide-rich air will raise carbon dioxide levels in the blood and stop the panic attack.
November 19th, 2014 11:14pm
They only help if you're hyperventilating. Other times, they give you something to focus on, but they do not directly help panic attacks.
December 9th, 2015 11:55pm
Sometimes panic attacks trigger a response where the individual takes in more oxygen than needed, this response is called hyperventilating. Hyperventilating is one way your body copes with high levels of stress, but not having a balance of oxygen can lead to fainting or a feeling of lightheadedness. In the event of a panic attack a Paper Bag could help control your oxygen levels and help you re-breath exhaled carbon dioxide.
December 10th, 2015 11:52am
It helps by breathing in and out of the bag. By breathing in the bag, Carbon Dioxide is released and so is some Oxygen your lungs didn't take into your body. You keep breathing in and out, with less and less Oxygen released into the bag and going into your lungs. Because of that, your brain and body slows down, therefore slowing your panic attack.
December 10th, 2015 6:16pm
When you have a panic attack, your breathing can become erratic and your body's levels of carbon dioxide can be reduced. Breathing in and out of a paper bag will build up the levels of carbon dioxide again, making you feel better!
December 10th, 2015 7:50pm
•When people get anxiety attacks they 'over-breathe'. This lowers the level of carbon dioxide in the blood and that makes them feel worse! Breathing into a paper bag for half a dozen or so breaths, builds up the carbon dioxide in your body again, so you should immediately start feeling better.
December 11th, 2015 11:47am
you breathe carbon dioxide in to the bag and so you then inhale it again when you breathe in, the carbon dioxide levels then go up, and the pH of blood goes down towards the acid end of the pH scale. which will stimulate the hemoglobin to release oxygen into the tissues
December 11th, 2015 5:49pm
They increase the amount of carbon dioxide you inhale and reduce the amount of oxygen which causes a calming effect.
December 11th, 2015 8:57pm
Well traditionally breathing into a paper bag was used as a way of dealing with the short term symptoms of panic attacks. When you hyperventilate you need more carbon dioxide (CO2) to normalise the levels in your blood. However more recent research shows that breathing into a paper bag creates a sharp increase in CO2 that causes MORE panic attacks. Bad news! A more recent approach to hyperventilating is to focus on measured breathing and attempt to lengthen and slow breathing without the aid of a bag. This helps to reduce the panic attack, and also increases the CO2 in your blood but at a much healthier rate. It also avoids the problems of too little Oxygen in the blood caused by breathing into a bag. So really the answer is, modern science says it doesn't really help much, and it isn't very safe.
December 12th, 2015 11:09pm
When you have a panic attack, a lot of people breathe too quickly, taking short, sharp breaths. This can make you feel really light-headed and woozy. Breathing into a paper bag makes you 'recycle' your breath so you aren't taking in so much oxygen, which will help you feel less light-headed.
December 13th, 2015 12:49am
Paper bags create a controlled volume of air for a person to breathe in and you are essentially inhaling your own CO2 because sometimes when you become too overwhelmed and can't breathe properly, you inhale too much oxygen, so this forces the amount you take in to be decreased and helps get you back to a normal rate of intake.
December 13th, 2015 10:40pm
This is a myth.. it's supposed to stop your hyperventilating but recent studies have shown this not to be the case. It's better if you learn to use controlled breathing to bring your panic under control. Search for "breathing techniques for anxiety" and you will be able to find a whole load of 'stuff' to help you.
December 13th, 2015 11:48pm
With panic attacks, you often start to breathe extremely rapid, which feeds your panic attack. Breathing in a paper bag allows you to slow your breathing down and calm down by doing that. It won't make the whole problem go away, but it does help a big deal!
December 16th, 2015 11:01am
You can only inflate/deflate a paper bag so much before you need to inhale or exhale, so it helps you control your breathing by taking larger breaths than you would without it. Short, shallow breaths may increase your anxiety so it just helps you take deeper breaths, which is good.
December 18th, 2015 1:02am
They help you to take deep, long breaths and steady your breathing pattern as anxiety can cause hyperventilation that can restrict your CO2 levels and overflow your oxygen levels. In result your body is getting to much oxygen and can't use it efficiently, which can lead to symptoms such as .dry mouth .chest pains .weakness .dizziness .giddiness .heart palpations.
December 19th, 2015 10:03am
When we hyperventilate, the rapid breathing causes us to lose Carbon Dioxide at a faster rate. This makes our brains start to "freak out" and continue hyperventilating, which can make us light-headed, dizzy, and fog our thinking. A panic attack is a cascade of events, like a line of dominoes falling down. It can be really hard to keep our heads clear during a panic attack, but if you can find a paper bag, breathe a few times into one. What this does is recirculate our exhaled Carbon Dioxide back into our lungs and blood streams. The brain gets to pause after realizing everything is going to be just fine. This can help stop a panic attack from accelerating, and gives us time to restore control.
December 20th, 2015 4:19pm
They help you to steady your breath they help you to concentrate on the breathing and calm it so that your heart rate will settle it works as a distraction you start paying attention to the bag rather then the reason your panicking
December 22nd, 2015 6:03am
When you breathe into them it forces you to control your breathing by limiting air intake thus preventing hyperventilating
December 23rd, 2015 7:15pm
When you have a panic attack, your fight or flight response is activated. The fight or flight response is a part of your Sympathetic Nervous System. This response causes your body to undergo physical changes, as it prepares you to face what it deems to be a threat. Hormones shoot throughout your body and you begin to take fast and shallow breaths. This is because your body is trying to get as much oxygen to your muscles as possible. This is also known as hyperventilation. When you hyperventilate during a panic attack, you-- to put it one way-- overdose on oxygen. This causes you to feel lightheaded, can make you feel as if you are in a dream, and can cause tingling in your limbs or face. Breathing into a paper bad helps combat this by balancing out your oxygen intake. When you breathe in from a paper bag, you are breathing in more carbon dioxide. This helps stop the fight or flight response symptoms.
December 24th, 2015 9:03pm
Well, I don't think it helps directly with the panic attack, but rather prevents a person from hyperventilating or "overbreathing". I used to use them when I was little and getting nervous before dance recitals.
December 25th, 2015 8:22pm
Paper bags do not help you with panic attacks they don't help you at all there is no benfit from them.
December 26th, 2015 4:45pm
They reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood, when you breathe out, you bring carbon dioxide and oxygen into the bag, and when you breath in, you will take in same breath you just released. This air will have less oxygen in it and thus your blood will take up less oxygen. Panic attacks are often caused by an overflow of oxygen in the brain and thus breathing in a bag helps.
December 30th, 2015 11:19am
it helps you breath more witch helps the air entering your brain witch helps by calming you down and makes you think clearly