Sighing Dyspnea Anxiety

Edited , 19 users are following.

Today is 2/28/20. As I write this I find myself in my 8th or 9th week of what I feel is best described as Sighing/Yawning or Psychogenic Dyspnea. If that term is new for anyone I will explain. Ever since I was in my early 20's (57 now 😦) Have been able to take a deep satisfying breath which fills my upper lungs with so much air that I feel I could hold a musical note for two minutes or stay under water for a long time.

However, though I was aware of this I never though about it. Without boring you with my complete history suffice to say I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder in my late 20's. Most of my trouble

came from perceived health issues i believed i had or worried about getting. Eight weeks ago I started obsessing on getting this breath and when I couldn't I completely derailed. Now something I only thought about briefly is an OCD type issue which is controlling my life to the point of major depression setting in.

I've done much research on this and have only found a few sites that explain this debilitating condition. When working properly my diaphragm/upper belly comes out a little and all this wonderful air fills my upper lungs. It is so satisfying that it feels I imagine as if being on a drug like crack where you always want another high ( breath in my case) like that. When it doesn't come you try to force it which makes it harder to get and then makes you feel like you are not getting air to your upper lungs. In other words you are breathing but you feel and walk around like you are suffocating. The longest so far has been 14 hours that I couldn't get that deep breath. Now its all I think about until I try to sleep.

I've had blood work/chest xray and a physical a week ago. All is normal. I started Zoloft 6 weeks ago and it was raised to 200 mg this past week. I start therapy in two weeks.

And even though I know logically its all anxiety and mind related I can't stop. When I sleep Its not happening so I want to stay in bed all the time so that I can drift in and out of sleep and have some peace not thinking of it. As soon as I wake its my first thought. Can I get the deep breath? Dammit it's not coming. I sit up try to force it to the point of dry heaving because I'm trying to gulp in so much air.

At work its the same thing...And ironically I work in a Psychiatric Facility and know all about anxiety issues. Yet here I am. I don't want to think about it anymore. And if I do and I get the deep breath I want it to be enough for awhile, not where I'm thinking about getting it again 2 minutes later. I'm scared that it will never go away and I don't know if I can live like that. I know I'm not suffocating because I don't faint and haven't died. I know I'm still breathing and will continue to do so. However, that suffocating feeling is beyond horrible and even though I know that deep breath will eventually come I simply don't know how to cope with this awful feeling or this obsession. Thanks for reading and or commenting.

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  • Edited

    you are not alone. i feel this all the time. however, burping helps me! i will go out my way to drink a cold sprite just to burp! or ill start yawning for dear life. i know it sounds crazy but sometimes i get desperate. once i thought about it so hard that i ended up in the ER thinking that i was suffocating forreal. i literally though l would pass out forreal. they said my oxygen levels were normal but for peace of mind they gave me a quick 5 min breathing treatment. i believe it is all anxiety and a mind thing. i do have an inhaler now from that ER visit, ive only used it once. also exercise helped me. as well as yoga. i also wonder could it be from my poor posture. I too am currently having difficulty as im typing this but i know itll pass.

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  • Posted

    Hi all,

    I hope you are well.

    I have also been suffering from this and it was rather helpful to see that someone else was having the same problem. I'm in my mid 20's and definitely suffer from anxiety, mostly to do with health - as you can imagine, this has got worse in the last few weeks given current circumstances. Unsurprisingly, the dyspnea has got much worse as I can't stop thinking about and worse, still whether it might be a sign of an awful illness or indeed COVID19. I am 80% sure it's my anxiety at work but like you, I overthink and make things much worse for myself.

    You are not alone. Drop me an email if you ever need to talk or indeed if you have any tips/things that have worked for you.


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  • Posted

    Hi there,

    I'm now going through this. I'm 24, active, never had any issues related to breathing/allergies etc. One night, towards the end of March, I suddenly woke up from my sleep feeling like I was suffocating. Considering current situation, this wasn't a great timing. For two days I felt absolutely miserable, like breathing was such a hard work, when it shouldn't be. Of course, I went to my GP, had several tests done including ECG, blood tests for thyroid, breathing tests... you name it. Everything was clear but I still couldn't stop feeling like I couldn't take satisfying breath. I felt like it was taking over my life. I stopped going for my usual runs because I was scared I would not be able to. Had a second round of doctor visits, all clear. My GP told me he thought it's psychological and to 'push through it'. I was gutted. Not because he told me it was psychological but because he didn't advise me on how to deal with it.

    I have been previously diagnosed with panic disorder so I do overthink and worry in my regular life, probably more than normal healthy people do. But I've actually been feeling pretty good lately, even though we have a world pandemic and massive state of panic in the world. I have absolutely no idea what could've started this; Maybe I have been feeling a bit more stressed at work than usual, but I still can't believe that a bit of extra workload and uncertainty would cause this to me when I was in much worse state mentally a few years back and nothing like this ever happened to me. I did try to change job beginning of this year and went through some terrifying, long and exhausting interview process that dragged from December to February and in the end didn't get the job so maybe that didn't help... I honestly don't know.

    Anyway, I did an extensive search. There's a limited number of (accessible) articles on this but everything mentions breathing techniques. Now, I have Garmin sportswatch that has a program for breathing so I have been using that but I understand that not everyone has this sort of resource. There are some great apps that I've been using when overwhelmed with anxiety, that also feature breathing exercises (Headspace). Otherwise, I got back to running and working out and found out that when exercising, I breath completely fine. I breathe fine for an hour to a few hours after. So I'm trying to stay distracted. I started enjoying chores because I don't think about breathing. Dusting, ironing, tidying up, washing up... I found out that I feel more relaxed doing these than I do watching TV and the sighing and yawning is gone or so very subtle it's not even annoying.

    It's not perfect though. It's still on my mind and until I stop thinking about it completely and obsessing over it, I don't think it'll go away.

    If anyone has any tips for what's helped them, please do share.

    I also wonder @Steelers1 if you got any better since writing the post?

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    • Posted

      hi, i also am suffering with what the symtpoms you have put since this coronavirus pandemic, ive been to the doctors and was told its anxiety and i have started sertraline and on first week and thinks are worse but i had an evening where my breathing was back and i was not focusing on it. how is everyone doing now?

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  • Posted

    Reassuring to see this post, and to see others have the same issue. I have had bad sighing dyspnea anxiety for the past few weeks now, and it seems to be getting worse. I used to be able to get a full breath from yawning but this doesn't seem to help much at the moment either. I have started running, but it is getting difficult as well, as I still struggle to have a full deep-breath whilst running. Would be great to hear any breathing techniques or other tips from other people!

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  • Posted

    i offer this comment because of what i went and am going through. this may not be what you are experiencing but i wanted to reply.

    I've diagnosed myself with this based on everything i read and after medical tests showed that nothing warranted further evaluation.

    i can take deep breaths that are similar to the ones a Dr would have you do during a physical. but the satisfying breath i speak of is ...i think..when your diaphragm moves a little bit further allowing extra air into your upper lungs.

    this as i stated in my first post was effortless and never thought about. then in December when , i believe, due to my GAD and stressors i wasn't able to get a that breath when i wanted and it quickly developed into an obsession and panic and depression. The breath would always come at some point but in between i was a mess.

    I went on meds..started therapy and have had decent results. yes i still think about it each day..each hour but i slowly believe I'm convincing myself that i will get it eventually. yesterday was a good day. so much so that i almost felt normal again. then this morning I felt bad again..but I remained semi calm and as I'm writing the breaths are back.

    the thing is i want to get to a point where i don't think about it at all.

    breathing exercises... I've tried but it focuses me on breathing which can start me cycling again.

    if this sounds like you we can talk further.

    but suffice to say im much better then i was in January and February

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  • Posted

    I've been looking forever for someone who has this problem too! Finally!! I deal with a lot of mental issues and every time my anxiety gets really bad, I feel like I can't get a real deep breath. It's like this bar my breath has to reach for me to feel satisfied. And if I can't reach it, I just push out air like it's gonna help me get a good breath after it. Anyone else do that?

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  • Posted

    Thanks for getting this discussion rolling as there does not appear to be much info out there on this absolutely annoying condition!

    I'm a 61 year old male and I've been suffering with this malady on and off for the past three years. in 2017, out of the blue, I started not being able to get a full satisfying breath on demand. i immediately started freaking out thinking i must have lung cancer or some other heinous condition. It lasted a couple weeks and then i was back to normal. I was good for the next two years but in the last few months i've had numerous episodes including this past week. I'm in pretty good health overall and in excellent physical condition. I swim 5-6 days a week and currently hold the US Masters championship title in my age group in the men's 1650 freestyle so I know my lungs work fine!

    i have always got pretty worked up over health issues and external stress has in the past manifested itself in various health issues like a shingles outbreak when I was moving jobs in 2006 and acid reflux/ gerd when my parent were both dying in 2003. I apparently internalize stress even though I don't feel like i have anxiety problems or feel particularly stressed. Right now the two stressors i have would be the Covid pandemic and I've been having some issues with my liver for the past year (steatosis) and have yet to get any definite answers on the specific cause.

    When I'm not thinking about it, my breathing returns to normal but something always sets it off and gets me to be conscious of it - usually a feeling that I'm not getting enough oxygen even though I am and then I start thinking about it and dwelling on it.

    its definitely a bummer and putting a damper on my retirement and quality of life right now! If anti anxiety meds don't help with this condition, I wonder if hypnosis would?

    if anyone finds any treatments that help, please do share.

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  • Posted

    I know its been some time since you have posted, but I also suffer from this similar condition. I have been dealing with this for well over 7 years. I've seen many different doctors and have had multiple different tests ran and they all come back fine. While my condition started of mild it has definitely worsened over the years to where I think about it a majority of the day, and at times it makes life miserable. I ran across a condition called sighing dyspnea which I'm trying to convince myself it is and somehow overcome this condition that has consumed my life for

    so long. Its definitely a scary feeling, not being able to take a deep breath, or feeling like you are suffocating!

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  • Posted

    I too have been suffering from the same thing for about a month and a half now. My symptoms include frequent urge to take a deep breath/sigh every few minutes only going away when im sleeping. I recently got a spin bike and have been using it daily to get back in shape and this deep breath issue seems to have started a week after I started this new exercise routine. I went to PCP and had bloodwork and xrays done, nothing much came of these results and was told it must be due to anxiety. I was given an inhaler and perscription of ativan for short term relief (only taken 2) and was told that if the symptoms persisted that I should consider a longer term SSRI which id prefer avoiding. I have since become hyper-focused on my breathing and have a very hard time staying off google and keeping my mind distracted. I recently started dedicating some time to meditation and breathing exercises. While these do tend to help temporarily, the deep breathing and sighing always returns. Since yesterday, I have been really trying to resist the urge to deep breathe/yawn. It hasn't been easy but doing so has helped me get that satisfying breath more often. I have spent more time than I want to admit googling these symptoms and I am inclined to think this has something to do with overbreathing (also known as hyperventilation syndrome, sighing dyspnea, breathing pattern disorder) Since it must be impossible to get deep satisfying breaths every minute. I am somewhat relieved that I am not the only one dealing with this but, I also worry that there are many people saying this has gone on for years and that scares me. Would love to hear from anyone who has had any success in overcoming this...

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    • Posted

      Hi Kristen,

      i'm in the same boat and since you were the most recent reply i figured id try and reply to you. have you had any improvements since you wrote this? its really driving me crazy. i'm hoping to see a Pulmonologist in Boston soon , as my pcp seems to be no help. ill keep you updated on my progress. hopefully youll do the Same. it would sure feel good to know that im not alone. i see a lot of people with the same problem but not many who have followed up with some kind of remedy.

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