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Deep Breath Obsession???

metpit1

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Hello to whoever is reading. If you can provide any insight to this it would be much appreciated. If it winds up being to long I apologize. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety years ago. I had my first panic attack in my late 20's early 30's. I'm 56 now. Rather than get into a bunch of history I'm trying to find out about this issue I've had for years. I know it's centered on anxiety but I'd like to see if anyone knows the mechanics or physiology of what is happening.

Throughout the day I can get deep satisfying breaths without effort. When I say deep I mean its the type of breath that fills up you upper lungs so that if you were singing you could hold a note for a minute. I can feel a small rise just below chest that somehow fills me with a great amount of air that fills my upper chest. It is such a good feeling that its hard for me to explain. After getting this deep breath I go about my day breathing normally until i choose to get the deep breath again.
However, when I can't get this breath it is beyond debilitating. I start trying to breathe in deeply but I can't get the feeling I described. Over and over again I try ..to the point of dry heaving because of taking in so much air. The uncomfortable feeling of not getting the deep breath is so consuming I feel like I'd rather pass out then to live with this feeling. As mentioned this has been going on for years but much more so now. I'm thinking about it all the time when not busy doing something. I wake up and no deep breath, shower no deep breath, car into work no deep breath then for some reason I'll get it out of no where and Im good until the next time. Most recently I've gone 12 and 18 hrs without getting it. Then I get it and Im back to normal.

My question is ...Is it my diaphragm that is restricting and/or allowing for this deep breath. What exactly is happening physiologically to me. What allow me to get it and then what prevents me. I know this is very odd sounding. I work in the mental health field and am quite familiar with anxiety in all its forms. However, I cant find the mechanics of what is going on internally that causes this. Any help? Thx.
 

Cuchculan

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With your breath you should just let it happen by itself. Try and not even think about it. As it is you are fully focused on it. This does not help you at all. Only makes things worse for you. If you stopped noticing how you breathe all things would be normal. But like having a pain in the arm. You focus on it and it will never go away. You stop focusing on it and you no longer feel it. There is nothing wrong happening when you try to breathe. The thing is every breath does not have to be a deep one. By forcing it, you are noticing other things. It is as simple as don't force it. Just let it happen by itself.
 

metpit1

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Thx for your reply. For me that's like saying ..don't think of a pink elephant...once u say it it's the first thing you think of. So that's the difficult part. Plus I'm trying to find out what allows me to take the deep breath and what prevents me. I'm thinking diaphragm but not sure
 

Cuchculan

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I know I couldn't take a deep breath every time I tried to breathe. Seems next to impossible. Even trying would make a person feel dizzy. As you gulp the air in.
 

Rainy113

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Hi metpit, this is my first time here. I know exactly what you mean! It's not that you're trying to take a deep breath EVERY time you breathe but every once in a while you feel you need it. Like a yawn.

I have that too. I am usually able to get it eventually and don't worry about it too much, but there are times or days when I feel like you said. I can't breathe deeply enough no matter how I try and get almost panicky about not being able to breathe enough.

I thought I was the only one. I thought it might have to do with the fact that I have asthma and am an ex-smoker so my lung capacity may be less than it should. But what I find that helps is to make myself relax then try it. I mean consciously relax the muscles in my abdomin, my arms, my neck and back. Then stand or sit up straight, lean slightly forward and rest my arms on the desk or back of a chair, then try to yawn. It feels so good when it works. Sometimes it just doesn't though and then I have to force myself to think about something else for a while until I try again.

I can't believe this is my first day here and I find someone with one of what I thought was just my weird problems! If you find anything else that works for you please share.
 

metpit1

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Thx for your reply.. my situation is a bit different.. although I'm learning more about it.
Apparently when diaphragm contracts it allows for more air to fill your upper chest. Imagine taking a rubber band and place it between your thumb and forefinger. Stretch it out then pull down in the middle. That's like your diaphragm contracting.
It's an effortless thing that fills up my chest and feels great.
But because I've become fixated on it I try almost every minute to get it. When I can't it makes me feel like I'm not getting enough air into upper chest. It's an awful feeling. And you keep trying and trying but it doesn't come. I start dry heaving trying to get it. I know it's not going to help but I keep doing it.
Recently 14 hours went by and I thought I was going to lose it. Then I got it and then again and again. Effortless as I said.
But you still fixated on it. You don't want that feeling again so you keep taking the deep breath. The worst is bedtime. I know I'll wake up after an hour or two and not get it. Now your sitting up trying desperately and 3 hours have gone by...
That diaphragm won't contract when anxious like this so it's a vicious cycle.
I started meds last week and hopefully I'll get better. I've been this way for years but n very this bad. One's mind can really do a number on you.
 

FinneousRex

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I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I haven’t been through anything quite like that before. Only if I’m severely panicking and hyperventilating or if I have bad asthma. Can’t imagine having to deal with it all the time. Please do let us know how your medication works for you. I feel like once you get this figured out your quality of life and quality of sleep will increase :)
 

Dutchnl607

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Metpit1....I have been having the same issue. I had a bad panic attack 2 weeks ago. Since then I am fixated on my breathing. I have been having periods during the day when I can't get that deep breath. Its an awful feeling. When I finally do I feel fine until it happens again. Its a endless cycle and its driving me crazy. I went two days without having it and now its back. It is worse at night. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

ScaredyKat

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For me, I hate having panic attacks. It feels like a snake is wrapped round my middle sucking the life out of me. And the really bad ones do take up to 2 hours to go away properly. I find the more I am concerned with what is wrong in my body and what isn't working the worse it gets and the longer it takes to clear. These days during an attack I read, I move, I put music on, I watch the telly, I think about fluffy bunny rabbits or something funny, and once I hit exhaustion I then try and sleep. I count sheep jumping over a fence until I sleep - even if those sheep number one million and one. I never have a panic attack unless I am anxious about something - usually something I am worrying about so deep inside I am not always aware of it in the moment. That is causing my panic attacks - not my body. The worst one I had I was 2kms from home out for a walk on a Sunday. I could breathe in but not out. I sounded terrible - sucking noise out loud searching for air. I survived by telling myself that if I laid down on the ground I would never get up, so I forced myself to take control, told myself everything would be ok, and then slowly got myself back home with about thirty smaller panic attacks inbetween. I slept for 10 hours when I got home. I was fine. Since I started getting help I have had fewer panic attacks and never one as serious as that outside one.
 

Uzzz_619

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Anyone found the solution to stop urges to take a deep breath??? Meds? Anything?
 

Errokay

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I have the same issue. I also have learned that this feeling could be caused by high blood pressure/ hypertension. I then found out I am borderline hypertensive. I have just contacted a pcp so I can start treatment for hypertension. I'll let you know if it helps reduce this feeling.
 

Sacto

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I used to have this problem a ton, but it turns out that i was actually hyperventilating. It felt like I couldn’t get a deep satisfying breath but the problem physiologically is that I was actually getting too much air. The solution is to resist the urge to try to get that deep breath and instead focus on exhaling slowly and deeply. Look online for breathing exercises that will help you learn to do that. It took me a couple of months of practice but now I have it down and rarely have that feeling anymore. It’s pretty common with anxiety though
 

gadamsgrega2

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it's not high blood pressure normally, so don't listen to everyones comments here....
I explained this to my doctor about the deep breath thing and it's just simply a symptom of "anxiety" and nothing more... this other poster expressed high blood pressure/hypertension but those are very few cases, esp if you are one that has a history of anxiety and panic attacks... So I'll save you the trip to the er...
 

Sorceress

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Hi! First post here, I registered specifically because I found this thread. metpit1 couldn't have described it better, I've been struggling with the exact same thing for 3 months now. It's screwed up my mental health - I started having panic attacks at first triggered by not being able to get the satisfying breath, and more recently by other health related rabbit holes (I was worried it was caused by a blood clot so I started panicking about a minor ache in my leg etc). But the hypochondriac stuff came after months of dealing with the air hunger. I've also developed a fear of medication because I always worry it will somehow make my issue worse. I tried benzos but all it did was trigger my fear of medication, while the air hunger remained. I also have a prescription for an antidepressant but I've been too afraid to try it.

Has anyone had any luck with this? Was medication any help?
 

MaryL

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I just joined because of this very issue! So glad to find this. 2.5 years ago my shortness of breath (SOB) started . I knew it was anxiety because it happened twice before (for 1-2 days only , twice over 15 years) . I was given Xanax. Didn’t help . I started therapy w Anxiety center over the phone . I thought it was my high stress job as it would go away on vacations . And it would go away for weeks. A psychiatrist put me on Adderall feeling it was my ADHD causing me to be stressed . I didn’t like it so didn’t go back . I changed jobs and it went away for 4 months but is back now for 6 weeks. I’ve had maybe 6 days w/o it. I also can feel my heart racing a little . I do deep breathing , meditation , talk therapy and nothing is helping. I tried Buspar and it made it Worse . I already take a benzo to sleep so don’t want another med for anxiety bit at this point will try anything ! I’m going to a naturopathic dr and had some blood work im waiting on - hormones etc as I’m menopausal . Today was bad - I am at my wits end ! Not being able Breath causes more anxiety ! I’d take any other symptom ! Feels like an elephant on my chest / chest tightness .
Also - I’m not anxious about anything But shortness of breath. I Have a stress free life so it makes it even more confusing
 

RGM

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Hi metpit, this is my first time here. I know exactly what you mean! It's not that you're trying to take a deep breath EVERY time you breathe but every once in a while you feel you need it. Like a yawn.

I have that too. I am usually able to get it eventually and don't worry about it too much, but there are times or days when I feel like you said. I can't breathe deeply enough no matter how I try and get almost panicky about not being able to breathe enough.

I thought I was the only one. I thought it might have to do with the fact that I have asthma and am an ex-smoker so my lung capacity may be less than it should. But what I find that helps is to make myself relax then try it. I mean consciously relax the muscles in my abdomin, my arms, my neck and back. Then stand or sit up straight, lean slightly forward and rest my arms on the desk or back of a chair, then try to yawn. It feels so good when it works. Sometimes it just doesn't though and then I have to force myself to think about something else for a while until I try again.

I can't believe this is my first day here and I find someone with one of what I thought was just my weird problems! If you find anything else that works for you please share.
Hi

I have suffered with exactly this every single day for 2 weeks now and it is horrendous, so I know exactly how you feel. It has consumed me every day and night since getting it, and nothing has helped whatsoever. I have tried taking it off my mind by watching TV programmes but nothing distracts me fully. The only thing that relieves it is sleep, but as soon as I wake up it's on my mind again and I'm constantly forcing deep breaths/yawns in order to feel relief. I have been taking Sertraline for a year now and this has only just come on recently. Have you been able to find a solution yet? Any suggestions at all would be very gratefully received! I have already tried distracting myself, watching YouTube breathing videos and NHS breathing exercises but nothing helps. It has become the new 'norm' for me and it scares me thinking this will be permanent!
 

gadamsgrega2

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I went to the dr. to try and find out what that "lack of full breath" was. The Dr. said it was just that I was simply Tired... Nothing more...
Gotta love when that's all the Dr. has for you...
 

JoshhLadd

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Hi

I have suffered with exactly this every single day for 2 weeks now and it is horrendous, so I know exactly how you feel. It has consumed me every day and night since getting it, and nothing has helped whatsoever. I have tried taking it off my mind by watching TV programmes but nothing distracts me fully. The only thing that relieves it is sleep, but as soon as I wake up it's on my mind again and I'm constantly forcing deep breaths/yawns in order to feel relief. I have been taking Sertraline for a year now and this has only just come on recently. Have you been able to find a solution yet? Any suggestions at all would be very gratefully received! I have already tried distracting myself, watching YouTube breathing videos and NHS breathing exercises but nothing helps. It has become the new 'norm' for me and it scares me thinking this will be permanent!
Im excatly the same been like it 6 weeks plus
 
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