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Can't Take A Satisfying Deep Breath Over and Over Again!
An_190379 posted:
When I go into panic mode, I can't take a satisfying deep breath and it feels like it will never come. I want to call 911 all the time since I think I am having a heart attack or I will never catch my breath again. I have had this for years and years (am 60 now) so you would think I wouldn't panic and just take regular breaths, but it doesn't work for me. It went away for many, many years with just occasional minimal bouts. A year and a half ago, it came back full force so my meds were changed. I was taking 20 mg of Prozac in the AM. My psych switched all my meds and now I am on a potpourri of meds, but obviously, just recently, they aren't doing the trick. Went for a physical last week. EKG was slightly irregular so Dr sent me to ER. Did another EKG which also showed a slight irregularity. Did a chest XRay which was fine. Had me hooked up to a monitor and oxygen levels were 100%. Did lots of blood work including oxygen levels which showed as slightly low so they decided to do a CT Scan with injected dye. That showed my heart was fine so they sent me home and said I was in perfect health. I have also been getting heartburn a lot but they could not pinpoint a reason for that either. Is it possible to get heartburn from nerves as well? Thanks for reading all this. Typing this calmed me down a bit, but I can't get my mind off the fact that I will panic again. I need some tips on how to relax and need the tips badly.
EroToo replied to sunild1204's response:
When I have a problem taking a deep breath, nothing helps. Deep breathing just makes me realize that I can't take a full, satisfying breath.
Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
One thing that often is not considered is that some medications can cause heartburn. Yes, being anxious can also cause heartburn because it seems to affect stomach acid.

I am not an MD, but I don't understand the fact that they indicated slightly low levels of oxygen and did not recommend anything. I'm not saying that you need medication, but they might've suggested that you could use some training in breathing techniques. There has been some research in the past where inadequate breathing can bring on panic attacks because it changes oxygen blood level. Unless someone says that you need something else, it sounds like they gave you a "clean bill of health." Have you ever tried relaxation breathing? I think this might be a good thing for you to consider and we do have a video to train you on that in our Tips column. There are also some tips on exercise and I would suggest that you consider those as well.

There are many things that we can do to help ourselves calm down and I believe that you could benefit from learning some of these as thousands of other people have, too. Give it a try.
EroToo replied to Patricia Farrell, PhD's response:
The doctors weren't that concerned about the low level in my blood work since I was hooked up the a monitor and my oxygen levels were at 100%. I am in constant fear now of having a heart attack even though I was told I am fine. It's driving me nuts and I can feel myself working up into a frenzy.
EroToo replied to EroToo's response:
Oh, and they did tell me to exercise which is a stress reliever, but since I am nervous about being short of breath, I am afraid to walk to much. Going back to my psych to see if I need medication changes. They were changed 1 1/2 years ago, but I think I need another change.
mysterial responded:
I have had this for many years but it only happens a few times a year. Most terrifying thing ever, each time it happens.
EroToo replied to mysterial's response:
I went to my psych today. I showed him the blip in my cardiagram. Said the doctor should have known it was from one of the meds I take, imipramine (Tofranil). He also is switching me from Zoloft back to Prozac. I was on Prozac for about 20 years until 1 1/2 years ago when it stopped working. We are going to see if it works again. Was great for the 20 years I was on it.

thanks to all who responded. Karen
sunild1204 replied to EroToo's response:
What I realized was that you must breath without thinking about it. Just do not make it look conscious effort. Take it back to Sub Conscious level.
MissCaptainKirk responded:
I have this problem as well when I go into a panic attack. I literally cannot breath, even stopped breathing altogether. I will have to agree with Dr. Farrell and say you should learn some deep breathing techniques so you can practice them as soon as you feel the attack coming on.
A good way to learn some is to do yoga. It is very moderate but good exercise and teaches you good breathing and how to stay calm. Since you are 60 I am sure hard physical workouts aren't good for you, they aren't good for me either because I have Fibro but even I can do yoga. If you can't afford a class, there are a lot of yoga DVDs.
I will have to say that because of my attacks I went to the doctor to see if I had a heart problem, but I did not. I think you can put a lot of stress on your heart with panic attacks though so it is very important to stay calm.
Good luck and I hope it all goes well with you!
doxielover10 responded:
I am so incredibly anxious, I'm literally vibrating. I have been this way all my life, I had a duodenal ulcer when I was 15.

I cannot say why I'm so anxious, I have no idea. One thing I did notice at one point was that while trying to control the anxiety I ALWAYS was holding my breath - I HAD NO IDEA I WAS DOING THAT !!!

Now that my anxiety has gotten out of control I am taking valium under a doctor's care. I also found that if I lay down , try to get my muscles out of the knot they are in and start to inhale slowly and exhale very fast. Take really deep breaths and try to keep your thoughts neutral.

I know it's awful
williamcdaniels responded:
I have had this same problem for years and I finally found out what was going on. I (and I imagine everyone in this discussion) have something called "Hyperventilation Syndrome." Basically, over the years, we have learned to stop breathing deep in our bellies, as all newborns do, and learned to breathe in our chest's. Most of the time this is completely unconscious. Anxiety CAN exacerbate this, but most likely would go completely unnoticed.

Before you say "Its not anxiety! I've tried every antidepressant and gotten all of the tests and nothing came back!" I would tell you that I did the same thing, and it all came back clear. Not being able to breathe and not knowing why is probably one of the most terrifying feelings there is and there have been many times where I have just wanted to take a swan dive over a high bridge. But believe me, there is a solution. First of all, realize that you absoloutely are getting enough air. That is not the problem. You will not die from this. The reason you feel like you are constantly out of breathe is because you are expelling too much carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is essential for maintaining oxygen levels; so when you don't have enought CO2, your brain realizes this, and attempts to take in more air, giving you that "air hunger" feeling. All you have to do to cure yourself of this is to relearn how to do belly-breathing. Google "Buteyko Method". It is excellent. Also check out the book Hyperventilation Syndrome by Dinah Bradley. Believe me when I tell you that it works and once you learn how to do this you will be fine. Sorry to everyone who is going through this horrible feeling. When it was at its worst, I literally felt like I was suffocating. If you find yourself panicking, just remember - you're expelling too much CO2. The best way to fix this is to breathe "low and slow". Lie on your back and breathe deep into your belly, as slowly as you can. Your chest shouldn't move at all. At first, it will feel very incomfortable; this is because your brain still feels like it needs more air. But what you are doing is slowly restoring the CO2, which will in turn modulate your oxygen. As I am writing this it sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but believe me it works. If you can't trust some random dude posting on this forum, and who would blame you if you couldn't, then just google "Hyperventilation syndrome" and try the deep belly breathing. You should also go for brisk walks and ONLY breathe through your nose. Never your mouth. Every time you breathe through your mouth you are expelling more CO2 and thus receiving less oxygen. I hope this works. It did for me.
lorenc_anx replied to williamcdaniels's response:
Hi William, your post was a perfect description of what I think that most Doctors could not even be able to diagnose themselves, so I really appreciate your extensive and useful advice. I hope you get this message because I want to thank you for exposing those very useful info and also wanted to ask you some questions.-I felt each word you wrote to come from pure experience and not just from your opinion

First of all, I'd like to know whether you feel better now? Did the Buteyko Method dissipate your discomfort or it just made it a lot better? Any other tips in this terrible issue would be greatly appreciated.


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