Pneumothorax - mental health - Lung Conditions C...

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Pneumothorax - mental health

WestHam100 profile image

Recently had a pneumothorax that involved a stay in hospital and two chest drains. The second eventually led to the lung reinflating and I was discharged.

It's been three weeks now and while I'm getting occasional twinges from the chest drains - the second one in particular was very painful when inserted. I'm suffering hugely with anxiety around it. Having panic attacks at the slightest twinge thinking the whole ordeal is going to happen again.

I wonder if anyone has any advice on how to deal with the mental health side of healing, as I'm finding it very tough!

24 Replies

Hi and welcome. I haven't had a pneumothorax but have anxiety problems relating to chronic lung disease. For some learning relaxation techniques helps for me distraction and trying to keep occupied both physically (within limits) and mentally helps. Hopefully someone who has experienced a pneumothorax will come along and be able to advise from that perspective. Best wishes.

WestHam100 profile image
WestHam100 in reply to CDPO16

Thank you for your response - I do appreciate it and it's nice to know people are out there! It's a bit of a vicious circle when the breath can be a relaxing focal point however focusing on it can cause the anxiety! I'm sure I will find lots of advice/guidance/help here and even writing this is helping with the anxiety and twinges!

I do hope you are doing okay and thanks again for reaching out.


CDPO16 profile image
CDPO16 in reply to WestHam100

That's why I prefer distraction Mark. Focusing on my breathing is the last thing I want to do sometimes!We are a friendly lot and if writing about how you feel helps come here anytime. There is always someone around. Carole

WestHam100 profile image
WestHam100 in reply to CDPO16

Yes! That is very true. Before this happened I used to meditate once a day but it seems a lot more difficult now so am looking for a new technique.

Even offloading my worries helps and its comforting to know a space here exists to do that. I feel my partner gets the brunt of my neurosis so having somewhere else is very useful.

Thank you again!

Damon1864 profile image

Hi I'm so sorry to hear that you get anxious over the drain, I can't offer any advice but I'm sure someone will be able to help you. Please let us know how you get on have a good evening and take care 😊 Bernadette and Jack 🐕 xxxxxx 🌻🌻

WestHam100 profile image
WestHam100 in reply to Damon1864

Hello Bernadette and Jack. Thanks for your kind intro - as mentioned, it's nice to be part of a community and know there are people out there who can guide and support. I will keep in touch! At least the evenings are longer now so I intend to sit in the garden this eve.Thanks again!


I do sympathise and empathise so much. Last June a cardiologist gave me a pneumothorax whilst fitting a pacemaker. I nearly died because he didn't act on it for 3 hrs. Like you I had 2 drains because the first one was put in the wrong place. I have suffered a lot of trauma and am now diagnosed with severe ptsd. I recognise the feelings that you are having. I have been offered trauma cbt and another form of therapy but cannot go ahead because there is a formal investigation going on and I can't cope with both at once. I'm sorry that I can't help you but I wanted to let you know that there is somebody who knows how you are feeling.

WestHam100 profile image
WestHam100 in reply to Littlepom

Oh gosh! I'm so sorry to hear what you've been through. It sounds awful. I've always suffered with anxiety and this whole experience is playing into my anxiety like never before.

I feel tired all the time, just from being on edge, and every moment seems like a battle to get through.

But thankyou for your message - honestly, knowing someone is going through the same thing helps.

Take care,


Mndsmatter r very gd with various types of advice and help.take a look online,there r contact nos too x

Sending you lots of good wishes 🤗

Hi WestHam100, welcome to the British Lung Foundation patient's forum. I very much sympathise with how you're feeling. I don't know how deep diaphragm breathing technique would be for pneumothorax so dare not recommend it. It's what I've always done especially at times of extreme stress & anxiety. I also do it to get oxygen sats up & pulse rate down.

You may be interested to know that there is a helpline here, the number is 0300 555 2800 for UK office hours. They have counselling support at well as lung health support. They'd be able to advise & offer guidance on both counts I'm sure. Do give them a ring I've heard they're brilliant. Take care and all the best. P

WestHam100 profile image
WestHam100 in reply to peege

Thank you Peege. I'm going to give that line a call tomorrow. It sounds very useful. I used to lots of meditation before the incident but now I find focusing on the breath (the main point of meditation) just makes me anxious. I used to run lots - which was great for my mental health - but that's off the table at the moment until I get the go ahead.But thanks again for your message - knowing that this community exists makes me feel better!

Shall keep in touch!

peege profile image
peege in reply to WestHam100

Well you've got the basics of meditation, breathing, fitness and looking after your health so I'm sure you'll get there slowly but surely.

Hi WestHam100 and welcome to the site. Cant answer your question but some people on here suffer with anxiety problems that may be able to help and will come along shortly x

WestHam100 profile image
WestHam100 in reply to Izb1

Thank you! Have only been on this forum for two days but already the support from people is making it worthwhile.

Hello WestHam, 👋

I had a lung transplant and had chest drains. And yes they are dreadful. I felt like I had a knife stuck in me and every breath hurt so much. Because this has happened to you so recently it is normal to remember all the details vividly and the trauma (yes it is definitely trauma) can come back to haunt you. Even though they have discharged you , you are not yet completely well, physically and mentally. It will take some time to recover. For me it was easier because I knew it was coming, but for you it was unexpected. I would say over time you will feel less anxious. In the mean time, building your confidence will help. Go about your life as you would just take it slow and easy. Once you get back into the swing of things it won't dominate your thoughts so much. Talk to people who will listen, it's good to talk about it. If this does not work, please consult with your doctor. You will be okay. Keep your chin up.

Best wishes to you.

Cas 🌼🌱🌿🌷🌼

Hi westham100 sorry I have no experience of pneumothorax and I hope you are able to overcome your anxieties. I do get panicky when I get a chest problem and finding trying to control my breathing makes it worse so I try to keep myself occupied instead. X

Thanks so much for your message. Yes, I used to meditate but as that focuses so much on the breath it's not great to do at the moment. Distraction is a good option - by this do you mean literally bring distracted by a book/film/chat with friends or is it something more?

I do jobs around the house or read

I had a spontaneous pneumothorax and they opened up my chest and removed my pleura to stck the lung to the raw surface, they use iodinised talc now via scope, much less brutal. It was hell. and the drains coming out was awful. I suffered anxiety afterwards as well that my lung would collapse again but it did not. I was not allowed to fly for 6 months, as soon as the time was up I went on holiday freaking out as the plane climbed after take off as they told me it might collapse then, but I was alright and really enjoyed the holiday in the sun which also aided my recovery. I think your suffering from the shock and trauma of it all, but good your talking about how you feel, I think the majority of people do not have a further collapse, I wish you a swift recovery and hope you will be like myself and no further pneumothorax. Take care, rest and recuperate. It will get better.

WestHam100 profile image
WestHam100 in reply to scot_tosh

Hi Scot,

Wow! Thanks for your message - sounds like you've been through a real brutal journey. Yes, the anxiety is the worse things - even the slightest twinge and my mind starts to race. But as you say, it's all about rest and allowing myself to heal and accepting that this was traumatic and it will take time. Until then, I can dream of a holiday in the sun!Thanks for reaching out Scot - it helps knowing you've come out the other side.

Keep in touch!


I had a pneumothorax last year it’s horrible I’m not plugging a product but have you tried CBD oil? It has definitely helped my mental health issues after such trauma and pain

Caspiana profile image
Caspiana in reply to Nige420

Westham65 if you decide to try anything like this you absolutely MUST consult your doctor first. I hope you are feeling better today. 👋😊

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