The external respiration is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and the environment; internal respiration describes the use of oxygen by the cell (mitochondria).


Respiration, in the context of psychology, refers to the process of inhaling and exhaling air as a means of delivering oxygen to the body and removing carbon dioxide. It is a vital physiological function that sustains life and is controlled primarily by the autonomic nervous system. The regulation of respiration involves complex interactions between various brain regions, including the medulla and pons in the brainstem.
During respiration, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles work together to expand the chest cavity, allowing air to enter the lungs. Oxygen from the air is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the alveoli in the lungs, where it is transported to cells throughout the body. Carbon dioxide, a waste product of cellular metabolism, is carried back to the lungs and expelled during exhalation.
The rate and depth of breathing are influenced by a variety of factors, including physical activity, emotional state, and environmental conditions. Stress, anxiety, and fear can all impact respiration, leading to changes in breathing patterns such as shallow breathing or hyperventilation. Conversely, mindfulness techniques and deep breathing exercises can be used to regulate respiration and promote relaxation.
Disorders of respiration, such as sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma, are associated with a variety of psychological and cognitive symptoms. These conditions can also impact mental health, leading to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Effective treatment of respiratory disorders often involves a multidisciplinary approach that addresses both physical and psychological factors.

Areas of Application

  • Stress management: Respiration techniques can help individuals manage their stress levels by controlling their breathing patterns.
  • Mindfulness meditation: Focusing on the breath is a common practice in mindfulness meditation to enhance self-awareness and relaxation.
  • Anxiety treatment: Deep breathing exercises are often used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and promote calmness.
  • Emotional regulation: Conscious breathing can assist in regulating emotions and promoting a sense of control in various situations.

Well-Known Examples

  • Stress management: Inhaling and exhaling deeply to calm the nervous system and reduce stress levels.
  • Mindfulness practices: Focusing on the breath as a form of meditation to increase present moment awareness.
  • Therapeutic techniques: Using breathing exercises to help individuals with anxiety disorders regulate their emotions.
  • Self-awareness exercises: Paying attention to one's breathing patterns to understand emotional states and triggers.

Treatment and Risks

  • Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A type of therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors related to respiration difficulties.
  • Treatment: Relaxation techniques: Methods such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety and improve breathing.
  • Treatment: Medication: Some individuals may benefit from the use of anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants to help manage symptoms of respiration difficulties.
  • Risk: Dependency on medication: There is a risk of becoming dependent on medication used to manage symptoms of respiration difficulties, which may require careful monitoring by a healthcare provider.
  • Risk: Increased anxiety: Some individuals may experience increased anxiety or panic attacks when attempting to confront and address their respiration difficulties through therapy or relaxation techniques.
  • Risk: Negative side effects: Certain medications used to treat respiration difficulties may have side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, or weight gain that can impact overall well-being.

Similar Terms

  • Breathing: The process of taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide from the lungs.
  • Inhalation: The act of breathing in air, usually through the nose or mouth.
  • Exhalation: The act of breathing out air, usually through the nose or mouth.
  • Respiratory rate: The number of breaths taken per minute.
  • Gas exchange: The process by which oxygen is taken in and carbon dioxide is expelled during respiration.

Examples of Sentences

  • The study of respiration is essential in understanding brain functions.
  • Respirations are often affected by stress and anxiety.
  • She was concerned about her son's respiration rate during the panic attack.
  • Respiring deeply can help calm the mind and body.


  • (Explanation of the role of respiration in psychology)
  • (Overview of respiration and its impact on mental health)
  • (Study on the relationship between respiration and anxiety)
  • (Information on the importance of breathing techniques in psychology)


Respiration in psychology refers to the breathing techniques and exercises used to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and increase mindfulness. By focusing on the breath, individuals can regulate their emotions, improve concentration, and calm the nervous system. Deep breathing exercises can help combat stress and create a sense of inner peace. It is a simple yet powerful tool that can be used in various therapeutic settings to enhance well-being and promote mental health.