I feel like I can't take a deep breath

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I have been trying to figure this issue out for 3 years. It feels like I physically can't take a deep breath, all the time - 24/7, no matter what I am doing. This issue started when I turned 19, my sophomore year in college. I have had a chest x-ray, an EKG, an ECHO. I have had my hormones and thyroid levels checked. I have gone to an asthma-allergy doctor. I have seen a psychiatrist and tried 9 different medications for anxiety. I have seen a counselor for a year and a half and have not found anything that helps or any answers. I do not identify with Generalized anxiety due to the simple fact that this issue persists all of the time, even when I am (or should be) at my most relaxed. I have been told that it seems like my brain has been re-wired and almost stuck in "fight mode" (fight-or-flight) which I could see as a possibility. I am currently trying biofeedback/ neurofeedback, which I am optimistic about.  I just want to see if anyone has had a similar issue or has any suggestions. 

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  • Posted

    Kenzi, I would urge your physician to order a Methacholine challenge test. It's more diagnostic than your standard pft. I was diagnosed with asthma after having numerous normal pft's. Finally one of my physicians wised up and ordered it for me and it found my asthma. Don't give up!!

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  • Posted

    I am suffering from this same thing for 5 long months now. I have had all the tests done and everything come back normal. I’ve tried 2 antidepressants and had HORRIBLE side effects, so I stopped them.  I find that my need for a deep breath is worse when I am active, but that also could be my mind telling me I’m going to be out of breath. It’s completely thrown off my breathing and it makes me so dizzy and exhausted by the end of the day. 

    I feel like I have also become very obsessed with my breathing because of all of this, which makes the whole situation worse. 

    Do you find you get out of breath and need that deep breath just talking and walking? It’s the worst when I can’t get it. It throws me into a state of panic. 

    I just made an appointment for a biofeedback session, so I’m hoping that helps. I just want my life back. 

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    • Posted

      It is so frustrating.. I totally understand. I think the most frustrating thing is not knowing... asking yourself WHY cant I control this??? Also not knowing WHY you feel like you cant breath can cause anxiety in an of itself. My counselor once told me that breathing is a basic bodily function... one that we never think about which is why it brings us to a state of panic when we become consciously aware of it or it becomes "labored". I feel that way doing anything really.. even if I am laying in bed watching Netflix and just trying to relax. sad I would try the biofeedback and see if they can give you any valuable information.. I am only on my 3rd session so I cant say much about the process just yet/results but the guy that does my biofeedback has connected with me and it feels nice to talk to someone who "gets it". He feels very confident that we can figure this issue out. He actually used biofeedback to heal someone of hyperthyroid (to the point where she was going to have to have her thyroid removed.. he balanced out all of her hormone levels and now she only takes 1 pill/day).  I have been to doctors that made me feel like I was crazy and just told me it is anxiety or that I am out of shape (which I am not)...

      Im sure you have read online.. but another thing you could try in the mean time is deep "belly" breathing... Lay on your back, inhale through your nose for 7 seconds, hold it for 4, exhale slowly with pursed lips for 9 seconds.. Do this for 7 minutes, 1-3 times a day, at the same time every day. The idea of this exercise according to my counselor was to try to "reset" my breathing pattern. Personally, it did not work for me but its worth a shot.

      You could also look into getting your hormone levels tested. If you do this - make sure you find a doctor that will treat you based on your symptoms and not just the numbers on paper. Often, "normal" hormone levels are calculated in such a wide range, what is "normal" for someone might not be normal for you. For example, my testosterone level was "normal," in the middle of "average" for a female my age.. But the range was like 25-60! My Dr. explained it to me like... what if before this issue your testosterone level was 60 and now is 35... that is a HUGE difference in your body. Testosterone can control many other hormone levels.. it is very important. 

      Research taking a magnesium supplement..

      Research adrenal fatigue and see if you connect with that..

      Try testing for asthma or allergies.. 

      Essential oils such as lavender or peace and calming (I buy Young Living

      In the mean time.. see if your dr. or psychiatrist will prescribe you a benzodiazepine. This is NOT a long term solution but it does help on days when your breathing is unbearable. I take .5 of lorazepam (Ativan) as a last resort when I feel like I am about to lose my mind. 

      Lastly, I don't know if you have a spiritual life but I am a Christian. I have read the book 'Faith Releases Praise,' by Terry Law. This book emphasizes the importance of finding scripture in the Bible that applies to your personal situation.. and speaking it over yourself out loud, every day until God's PROMISE for healing manifests or "comes to be" in your body. I wish I would have started doing this long ago but it gives me hope, piece of mind and confidence for healing for an issue that other doctors (and myself) have not been able to solve. 

      Sorry for the long post, but I hope that helps a little! These are all things that I have tried.. maybe something will work for you. 

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    • Posted

      Hey jenny are you still struggling with this sensations have u ever gotten a official diagnosis on what may be the cause? I feel the exact same as you and would love to talk to you about it to see if we can relate..
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  • Edited

    Just wanted to respond to this because I had this issue 24/7 for 9 hideous months and finally figured it out.  I also remember reading forums like this one and desperately searching for an answer to this bizarre and awful feeling.  Mine was so bad at times I had a hard time talking, and was unrelenting. I was tested by my doctor for everything and all came back normal.  Tried antidepressants - did nothing other than give me weird side effects.  On a whim (because I just couldn’t give up trying to make this feeling go away and get my life back!), I saw a physiotherapist who referred me to a colleague who specialized in ribs.  In my case, it ended up being a very complicated rib issue, and not all physios know how to deal with it (I saw two others before that who both told me I was fine and to learn to relax).   I can still remember sitting in that physio’s office and her pushing on my ribs right under my armpits and how bad it hurt...and also the blessed sweet relief because I could breathe!  Of course it wasn’t that simple and it came back as soon as she stopped pushing there, but at last I had something I could do when it drove me crazy to give a moments peace. When she told me she knew what was wrong, and could help, I actually cried in her office.  It’s taken about 6 months of physio, plus some very slow strength training when I was ready, and I still see her one a month, but I’m basically cured, though I still do stretching and exercises every day to prevent it from coming back.  Anyway, just wanted to come back and pass this along as a possibility because I remember reading forums like this and wishing people would come back when they solved their problem, because doctors look at you like you’re crazy.  Try find a physio that specializes in ribs and see if that’s the issue for you too if everything else comes back normal and you’re not thinking it’s anxiety.   Good luck!  I know how frigging terrible this problem is and I hope this post helps someone out there. 
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    • Posted

      Are you outside of the USA? I’m searching for physiotherapists, but physical therapists are the only results I get from the search.  The rib thing you explained made so much sense since this tight and difficult to breathe feeling is much more common when I am wearing a bra and extremely bad with a sports bra that is tighter at the top of the ribs for more support.  I hope you’ve fully improved and I’m so glad that you found a solution .
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    • Posted

      Hi - I’m on about week 6 if these symptoms, where I am unable to take a deep breath, and 90% of the time I can’t “complete” a yawn.  Allergist/asthma treatments and inhalers have not helped at all.  I had a massage this week, and when she worked on my ride side, I felt crazy rib pain.  

      Was there a name for your diagnosis?  I’ll see my GP doc next week, and would like to share as much as I can with him. 

      Appreciate your thoughts....

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    • Posted

      Did you ever get a diagnosis? What you described is exactly what I have been experiencing for a few months now but it has gotten much worse in the last few weeks. It went from having that feeling periodically to nearly always.
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    • Posted

      Do you remember the name of your diagnosis? My husband has been having trouble breathing for the last 5 months or so with it getting progressively worse, for seemingly no reason. He's had tests done and everything has come back normal. Right now the doc has him on anti anxiety meds and he says they've made no difference thus far. I've been searching the web desperate to try and help him. He's miserable , it's holding him back from living his normal life. He can hardly have a conversation it's gotten so bad. He's almost 34, he's always been so healthy and I find it strange that out of no where he's now got breathing problems. He has told me it feels like his ribs won't expand to allow him to get a decent breath. And there are times his sternum and upper back pop when he tries to take a full breath in. Also, the only time he can sometimes get a full breath is when he's laying on the floor, flat on his back.

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    • Posted

      Do you remember what she said it was called? I keep thinking I have COPD but come to think about it I’ve needed to yawn to take deep breaths for 10 years now and it’s just getting worse and worse. I’ve never seen doctors regarding it I’ve always ignored it and chalked it up to anxiety, but the last two years it has gotten worse and it drives me crazy. 
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    • Posted

      i have the same condition for 5 months its awful! I cry my self to sleep ..all my test came normal .. I felt that you are talking about me.

      can i ask you something! have you ever experienced any pain in your chest or ribs that made wanna go to a physiotherapists. or any sign that led to that conclusion!

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