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Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

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Old 10-28-2005, 11:10 AM   #1
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deenie HB User
Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

I should know this - my MA in clinical psych doesn't tell me though! Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has experienced shortness of breath. It started in July and is pretty much chronic now. I'm 43 and have a 17 mo old and a 32 mo old so I'm very familiar with stress. I went through hell to have my first child and dealt with lots of stress with IF treament and miscarriage but, as my internist said, that was then and this is now. The Dr. first thought it might be reflux so he put me on meds for that. It didn't clear up after 6 wks so now we're thinking stress. I had an EKG in the office as well as a spirometry test to check my breathing and they were both normal. My bloodwork came back fine too (autoimmune, anemia, thyroid, etc).

My breathing gets better later in the day (when my husband is due home and the kids are soon to go to bed). What a surprise! It's worse when I wake after a lousy night of sleep, have my coffee and get ready to start my day. I've had physical anxiety symptoms before but nothing that chronically affects my breathing. It's like someone is sitting on my chest. I don't seem to be hyperventilating either. I don't get it.

I have a "stress" EKG on a treadmill in a couple of weeks but the Dr. doesn't think it will show anything because I look fine clinically. My sleep is horrible. Not refreshing at all and I'm troubled by insomnia. I've never been a great sleeper but I need my rest to keep up with two toddlers! The Dr. gave me Ambien which didn't help and last night I tried Lunesta (1 mg) and it did nothing. I can fall asleep but staying asleep is the problem.

I am basically an anxious worrier. That I know, but is that enough to cause these symptoms? TIA!

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Old 11-05-2005, 02:32 PM   #2
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hry33 HB Userhry33 HB User
Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

self help books on how to stop worrying have useful advice
if your chest expansion is OK then perhaps stress is in some way making it difficult to take deep breaths,or you may have the habit of shallow breathing when stressed asthma should be considered, you also may have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea
heavy snoring and gasping and choking when asleep are signs of a sleep disorder

see if breathing is easier after a long soak in a hot bath, also try massage
Life is not a dress rehearsal

Old 11-05-2005, 03:09 PM   #3
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browneyedsusie HB User
Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

Hi Deenie
Just felt I had to respond to your post. Your situation sounds alot like mine did a couple of years ago. My last two children were 13 months apart and I went through months of feeling the way you do. For me it was definetly anxiety and stress. My chest also felt heavy and I was always sighing as if trying to get more air in my lungs or expand them better. Air hunger is a common thing when you are unrested and stressed and the fact that you notice a difference come evening is not surprising to me as I was the same. I found a trip up and down the stairs would leave me almost breathless. Make sure when you are breathing you are doing so from your belly not your chest. What I mean is ....lie on your hand on on chest...without thinking about it which is rising and falling ? your chest or stomach? If it is your chest you are shallow breathing and this will cause all the symptoms you mention . A proper breathing pattern comes from the stomach or diaphram.
I am 42 and experiencing symptoms of peri menopause and found my symptoms really peak with the hormone fluctuations up on the menopause board for the 35 symptoms of peri.
Hope this helps.......L

Old 11-05-2005, 04:24 PM   #4
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Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

Oh yeah!!!!! Anxiety can cause shortness of breath alright!

Old 11-07-2005, 06:26 PM   #5
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Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

I have asthma and stress is a major trigger for an attack.

Old 11-13-2005, 04:27 AM   #6
rainbow ice
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Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

I stress quite a lot too, and i find that when i go through times of heightened stress, i have short breaths and my heart beats quicker than normal. so yeh, i do know what u mean!!

Old 01-20-2006, 06:15 AM   #7
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Texcin HB User
Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?


I had severe allergies from after the birth of my first child, but it was only allergies, until I hit peri-menopause, then I began getting the shortness of breath. I've always had some anxiety, but my emotional state got really bad when my hormones changed. I do believe that my shortness of breath is related to anxiety a lot of times. Yoga has helped me learn HOW to breathe and how important the breath is. I was a shallow breather and tended to hold my breath. It's like a daily chore for me to breathe correctly. When I do, I don't have the shortness of breath. I did see an allergist, who diangnosed me with mild asthma. I still say it's anxiety!

Old 02-16-2006, 07:17 PM   #8
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Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

yes it sure can i can vouch! the more you think about it the worse it will pass with time, if you notice getting your mind occupied it vanishes,well with me it does.

Old 02-17-2006, 06:23 AM   #9
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Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

I agree. I developed this symptom when I went through meno. It comes and goes. Since early December I had it and the shortness of breath lasted about 8 weeks.

I guess that I got tired of worrying about it and it went away ( until I think of it again).

During the time of the symptom, I could walk four miles and do other things but when I would go to check how I was breathing, I would feel short of breath.

My doctor did give me an inhaler to use at those times but I'm not sure if it helped. However, when I started using it more, the better I felt and eventually did not need it.

I think that anxiety causes us to tighten some or our muscles and our breathing is dependent on those muscles being loose. Perhaps that is why the inhaler worked. It loosened up my larynx, etc.

Old 03-03-2006, 11:42 AM   #10
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shorebird HB User
Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

Yes most definitely. I used to suffer this problem all the time and it still sometimes resurfaces when I am not handling the stress in my life well.

Old 03-09-2006, 01:07 PM   #11
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Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

Im asthmatic and anemic, both cause breathlessness, BUT, when im stressed out its a hundred times worse.

Old 03-13-2006, 10:16 AM   #12
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maddie9 HB User
Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

I am going through this same problem at the moment. If eel like I can never get the right ampint of air and my chest and back pain with it. Have been told it is stress and anxiety related but it is stopping me from doing what I need to do and I am in bed a lot of the time with it. My life is in turmoil at the moment

Old 03-14-2006, 07:37 PM   #13
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Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

yes I get this off and on and in my teen years I had shortness of breath very often my mom took me for testing and it was always normal when I have the SOB I seem to try and yawn alot too and never can get a deep enough breath in to yawn.Stress and anxiety can certainly cause this and loads of others symptoms try and relax as much as possible

Old 03-15-2006, 04:56 AM   #14
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Texcin HB User
Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

Yes, the yawning is familiar! It's funny, but after the kids moved out, my "asthma" got much better! And, I have changed a lot of things . I don't say "Yes" to everyone now, I think about things and only do what I really want to. I try to keep as much stress out of my life as possible. Also, for some reason, I think drinking sodas (which I have eliminated) and eating too much sugar effects me. My "asthma" is much better now. I don't get the shortness of breath very often anymore. I'm learning to breathe and relax. Whenever an anxious situation arrises, that's when I notice the shortness of breath and I try to just stop and relax and breathe until I start breathing normal again!

Old 03-17-2006, 01:07 PM   #15
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shorebird HB User
Re: Can anxiety cause chronic shortness of breath?

As soon as my anxiety subsided my breathing problems disappeared. Could have been a coincidence but I do not think it was.

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