• Fear of suffocation;
  • Dyspnea;
  • Inspiratory resistive load


We aimed to investigate whether fear of suffocation predicts healthy persons' respiratory and affective responses to obstructed breathing as evoked by inspiratory resistive loads. Participants (N = 27 women, ages between 18 and 21 years) completed the Fear of Suffocation scale and underwent 16 trials in which an inspiratory resistive load of 15 cmH2O/l/s (small) or 40 cmH2O/l/s (large) was added to the breathing circuit for 40 s. Fear of suffocation was associated with higher arousal ratings for both loads. Loaded breathing was associated with a decrease in minute ventilation, but progressively less so for participants scoring higher on fear of suffocation when breathing against the large load. The present findings document a potentially panicogenic mechanism that may maintain and worsen respiratory discomfort in persons with fear of suffocation.