Anxiety Community
23k Members
Avatar universal

Constant shortness of breath- Anxiety??

Hi, I am an 18 year old female. For the last 3 months I have had a constant shortness of breath that is very severe and it lasts all day and night. I have had a thorough physical examination and all tests came out clear. My doctor says it is anxiety and even though it is hard to beleive i have convinced myself that it is true. I was under a lot of stress with University and I have had trouble sleeping for years. I am waiting to see a psychiatrist but i am scared. I keep thinking what if medications do not work or what if I don't get better. The problem is very severe and I feel as though i can never breathe. I have been trying to ignore the problem by going out with friends, doing yoga but its always there and it feels terrible. I don't think i can just ignore it.

I am just wondering if anyone has ever been through this horrible experience, if it is truely anxiety, and if your condition has improved. I really just need any kind of hope or support at this point. Thanks a lot,

72 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi ssharm,

Your doctor has cleared you and from what you are saying, this constant shortness of breath is due to anxiety. You mention a lot of worrying, what if medications don't work etc, etc. When one has the classic racing thoughts what if, just notice how fast your breathing is , you will be surprised. Some people clench their teeth whilst worrying and shallow breathe and have a lot of shortness of breath. Hyperventilation syndrome. Breathing retraining ie to breath slower helps for some, this strategy helped me when I was in my early 30's but I seem to have a fair bit of this shortness of breath too. I have TMJ and a deviated septum which doesn't help.

In your case I have a feeling that a good therapist could teach you how to breath slower, something like 10-12 breaths per minute. while resting. Once the breathing is slower , you should feel more relaxed and can work through your issues better and your anxiety should be at a more manageable level.


Avatar universal
Thanks so much for your response! I am on a waiting list to see a psychologist and I am going to work really hard to get through this. I think i have made things much worse because this started at the end of my University year and i figured things would be back to normal by now. I started reading posts on google with people who have had this for years and it made me so much more worried and stressed. I will try some breathing exercises to see if they help,

Thanks again for your support.
480448 tn?1426952138
Welcome to our little happy, anxious home!  I'm glad you found your way here.  

What you are going thru is certainly awful, but the great news...is you've been given the "thumbs up" medically, which is good.  While no one really wants to have anxiety....we SURELY do not want the answer to be..."Why, yes, you have something physically wrong which is causing your symptoms."  ACK!

Shortness of breath is one of the more common symptoms of anxiety.  It's up there on the list.  If you search the health pages under "anxiety"...you will see a very lengthy laundry list of different symptoms people experience as a result of anxiety.  It's a BIG list, and it is constantly growing,  Everyone is unique in how they react to anxiety.

You are already addressing it, and are awaiting your appt...so that's great, I applaud you for that.  The sooner you get moving on it..the quicker your recovery will be.  And, with some time, therapy, possibly meds if you choose....recovery will come for you.  I wish it happened overnight, but unfortunately anxiety is one of those things that truly DOES take some time...patience is a virtue when dealing with it.  

"What iff-ing"...which is what you describe...how you are worrying about the meds, your schooling, etc...is also very common in anxiuety sufferers.  These are the things that treatment will help you to overcome.  You will learn coping techniques, breathing exercises, etc.  You will discuss at your eval how you are feeling and what different treatment options are out there...and which ones are for "you".  It's a process.

In the meantime...and I KNOW the wait is hard when you are feeling like you do...it sounds like you are doing some good things...the yoga...spending time with friends...finding this forum...those are all things that will help you.  If you have a sec..read thru the forum...searching the (anxiety) forum for "shortness of breath", and other similar keywords...and read thru some posts...when you realize just how many people have and do go thru this...you will feel like a weight has been lifted.  New anxiety issues is scary, and isolating.  A lot of us have also written journals about out own experiences (mine are related to panic disorder and agorpahobia).

Just know that you are SOOOO not alone in this.  Anxiety is much much more common than anyone realizes.  If you have a close friend or family member that you can confide in and share what you are going thru...that lifts a lot of the burden as well...there is no need to suffer in silence.  Stick around here as well...we all are forever learning from one another, and supporting each other.  It's like free therapy.  LOL

I'm sorry you are going thru this, but you are on the right path.

Take Care...and be sure to keep us updated on how you are doing!!
Avatar universal
Again i just want to thank you so much. Your words alone have helped me feel so much better. It is very hard because I felt like why is this happening to me but now i know there are so many people who go threw this. I am really happy i found this site because I have told family members and friends of what im going through but they don't seem to understand. My mom thinks i don't look sick so i am perfectly fine.

I am glad i can come on here and find some comfort. I will keep you updated and I am here if you need any support as well.
480448 tn?1426952138
It is not too uncommon to have family or friends that do not understand.  They WANT to help, but often don't know how.  When I was 1st dx'ed with panic disorder...my father...God love him...and his analytical engineering way of thinking just could NOT get WHY I couldn't just "snap out of it".  

Actually...lol...he STILL, decades later doesn't get it.  But, he has learned to be supportive in spite of understanding.  And, that works for me.  I understand that unless you've lived it...you'll never fully "get it"...and that's fine by me.  As long as I get the support and compassion I need (and that takes some time for some of our loved ones)....that was all I needed.

Again, I'm glad you found us.  We are many....lol.  Many....and despite an anxiety issue/disorder...alll totally normal people.  Well, okay....some of my loved ones may argue that point for me....but you get my drift.  :0)
Avatar universal
Here I go with lets rule out everything. Anxiety can produce asthma that would not normally come out. You might ask your doctor for a free sample inhaler to try next time this happens. An albuterol is good. Only try 1 puff and hold only 5-10 seconds not longer. See if that totally 100%+ makes you feel totally great. I say like super human. Thats what I felt like when I used my inhaler. As you can tell I have asthma. If it doesn't make you feel like that then it's probably not that. In fact if you don't have asthma it probably will do little to nothing for you. But don't try this with out talking to your doctor first. And don't buy one of those over the counter inhalers!!!! That's NOT albuterol. Those are eppi inhalers and will make your heart go zoooooom. What you want to try is albuterol given to you by your doctor. It works in about 5 minutes.

Next. This is very easy. Ever try Benedryl? It's an over the counter antihistamine. You might have some allergy that just is starting to show it self. I never had allergies to stuff and just started in the past few years. It happens. It can even be from dust. You can try something also like Claritin pills. But they will take a few hours to start working and takes a few days of repeated usage to know if it is working. Benedryl stops the allergies in just 10 minutes and wears off after about 6 hours. It does put some people to sleep so try only 1 gel pill or half the dosage. Like a childs dosage. Don't drive for a few hours it will put you to sleep. And it's recommended to ask your doctor or pharmacy before taking any medication even antihistamine.

It's probably just stress and anxiety but it's really easy to rule these other things out. The allergy is the easiest to rule out sometimes just by trying an antihistamine. Just be aware that most antihistamines will make you tired for a few hours. Like alcohol you can't drive, with the exception to claritin which is non drowsy. Not as strong, but non drowsy.

So if these don't help at least you can rule 2 more things out. :)
Have an Answer?
Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
370181 tn?1428180348
Arlington, WA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out what can trigger a panic attack – and what to do if you have one.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Take control of tension today.
These simple pick-me-ups squash stress.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?