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Can this REALLY be panic attacks? / Can't take a deep breath.
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Can this REALLY be panic attacks? / Can't take a deep breath.

This question comes from quite a long background so i will try to be as brief as possible.

Symptoms: cannot take a deep breath, cannot yawn properly, cannot "fill" lungs with air, occasional mild heart palpitations. ... lasts for days - sometimes WEEKS on end, repeats.

Doc says: Panic attacks. (but I am skeptical)
(ruled out: lung problems, asthma, heart problems and so on)

Pattern:
Starts light, as though my chest is slightly constricted and over a week or so it gets really bad. now i KNOW i am getting enough air but i get compulsions to take a REALLY deep breath and it feels like my lungs don't fill up properly - this give me the compulsion to yawn a lot but still i can't fill up - i am not hyperventilating  when this happens - these compulsions can be one per minute or once every 5 - 10 mins.

This seems to kick in regardless of circumstances or stress levels and lasts for days...  This happens anywhere from outdoors trekking, to sitting in uni, to sitting in my house with a book or TV. Once it begins it can go on for days - sometimes weeks.It started again 4 days ago and i have had it every day since then.

It's pretty random how it goes from day to day - for example:  today it started about 4 hours ago and is not so bad, yesterday was all day and i felt like i was gasping for breath at times...


Background:

Ok problem started 8 or 9 years ago - happens in bouts of a few days sometimes weeks ... 2 to 3 times a year, 45 in the worst year. through being a pet owner and not, through pollen high summers and winters. I have been going to the docs about it for years. I had childhood asthma so this was the first suspicion but now my peak flows are fairly average and don't vary a lot (been checking them myself at home and at the docs periodically)   also i don't wheeze at all and it never becomes unmanageable just uncomfortable.

Last time this happened (Jan this year) the doc checked everything (a new doc so did full checkup for me) heart, lungs all fine - bp "a little high" but not too bad, physically it seems there's nothing wrong but still this persists...  I think my new doctor now thinks i am a bit of a hypochondriac lol.

Other than this perfectly healthy with no history of serious illness.

Any ideas? can it really be just panic attacks? seems like an extreme type of panic attack that can start whilst i'm sat reading a book and go on for weeks... :/
5 Comments Post a Comment
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1699033_tn?1405352675
There is something called sensorimotor OCD where a person gets hung up on automatic body processes such as breathing, blinking, swollowing.  They become compulsions like you described.  Have you been to see a psychologist to get a formal diagnosis?  The doctor is saying you have anxiety but it may be that you have OCD that needs to be treated.  Untreated OCD leads to anxiety so you need to make sure you are getting help for the initial problem.  Look for a psychologist that is good at teaching cognitive behavioral therapy.  Take care.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I can't believe how many people suffer from this! I don't feel so all alone. I'm 52 yrs old, and have been having that "can't fill my lungs" feeling since I was a teen. It's a frustrating and energy depleting experience that can last for hours or days. Hindsight is 20/20. I'll skip over all the years of misdiagnosis and the true lack of effort from any doctor to figure out what my issue is. At 48, at my wits end about my breathing I dove into the Internet, and made appnts with an array of specialists. I think we tend to look for one answer, but in reality you may have several issues causing breathing problems. My "can't fill up my lungs" feeling is definitely stress/OCD related. 1 mil of Alprazolam relieves my symptoms within 10 minutes.... Even if I'm at the point of hyperventilation and dizziness. I have a second problem of strider and labored breathing - tracheal stenosis from a botched intubation when I was younger. I've had three minimally invasive operations within two years, which gave me tempory relief. I will soon be having a fourth more aggressive surgery on my trachea - fingers crossed that it will be a permanent fix. P.S. when my trach is temp fixed, my stress related symptoms go away as well.
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Avatar_m_tn
Being skeptical and questioning anxiety is par for the course when dealing with it in my experience.  Many of us here had our initial experiences with anxiety and panic due to concerns about our health.  For me, I initially was worried about heart health and became super focused on that area of my body.  I felt every little pain, twinge, skipped beat, etc.  I had trouble breathing and felt like I couldn't breathe.  I ended up in the ER mutliple times and despite tests and doctors telling me it was anxiety related, I fought it for about six months until I even enterained the idea that it was anxiety (it was).

In my opinion, we become so hyper-aware of what is bothering us.  Little chest pains before this experience, I wouldn't pay any attention to, but when I started experiencing anxiety I felt EVERYTHING.  Furthermore, in my experiene, we can also tend to misinterpret that 'symptom' and catastrophicsize the meaining of it no matter how small the possility of it being true.  For example, if my left arm was sore, I immediatley linked it to an impending heart attack...nevermind that it could have been because I pulled a muscle or slept on it funny the night before.  

Anxiety is very powerful and denial and skepticism about it being the cause of your health worries is common.  Acceptience is initially a challenge, but once you even consider you can start to confront it. Have you ever recieved any type of counseling for this?  
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm 20 and I had a panic Attack over a week ago and haven't been able to full my lungs since witch medication works for you guys I have a new born baby and am really at my wits end with this! I'm so tired
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank god i found this!! have been googling not being able to take a deep breath and fill my lungs for sucha  long time, i only just turned 15 and ive probably had this a good year maybe two, i told my mum and my doc and all she did was listen to my breathing and said all was fine and dismissed it as i was at an appointment for blood test results for thyroid so wasnt really focusing on the breathing, may go again and ask, what did your doctor say/do? mine is sometimes really bad and i cnt breathe deeply other times its ok, but it is always there and i experience it daily cant remember when i last took a natural deep breath without a yawn or somethingto help involved. i thought it was stress or anxiety?
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