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How do you treat a breathing issue where you are gasping for air on and off? Possibly caused by bad news or stress??

I wonder if you can help me.

My partner has previously suffered with a breathing problem where he often cannot take a breath. As a result every now and then he feels short of breath and needs to take a deep breath. He had been to the doctor for blood tests but all was clear. It was a problem for years however it seemed to disappear. I cannot say exactly when but he was exercising loads and we were moving out of a home he was unhappy in when it seemed to clear up. Anyway, in the last few weeks he has started a new job, had some bad family news and has started worrying about money (we are getting married and having some work done to our new home) the breathing issue has returned. It's stressing him out more than all the other stuff. He is obviously annoyed and probably scared too. I just want to help him but don't know what to do and so we end up arguing because he says i dont understand. He refuses to accept that it's probably just some sort of anxiety issue and has convinced himself that he's obviously always had this issue despite the fact he's been fine for over a year.

Please help if you can. Is there anything he can do? We are trying to get him an appointment with a hypnotist to see if they can do something.

Many thanks in advance

7 Replies


I'd say this is definitely anxiety and because he then starts worrying about the breathing difficulty it compounds the problem.

He needs to practice deep breathing to control it and relaxation. I'd also advise a visit to the doctor as he obviously can't handle stressful situations and may need a medication to help calm him.

Good luck in persuading him to visit a doctor.

Beth x


Yes I agree with Beth. The husband of a friend of mine is having similar problems with her OH just now but he keeps going to the doctor and getting her to phone out of hours service because he's convinced he's having heart problems. Finally he went to see my GP as a visiting patient and he was taken off beta blockers and other meds and given a book (library prescription) on how to manage anxiety disorders as well as a cognitive therapy site - living life to the full (he gave me a link to the same site once so I remember it) and both seem to be really helping him. Get him to see a doctor if you can. Good luck. Tilda x


What you're describing does sound like a panic attack. When my OH had a lot of stress he started getting dizzy and couldn't balance without holding onto a chair or the wall. He had dreadful headaches, vomiting and basically convinced everyone around him including himself and me that he had a brain tumour. Following months of anxiety, Gp visits and MRI scans he eventually saw a neurologist who said he thought it was psychological. I honestly had no idea and was shocked but relieved. We looked at our lifestyle and took steps to ease the stress he was under and he gradually improved and learnt to manage his symptoms. The problem with anxiety issues is often you don't recognise what's happening. Men are also known to find it difficult admitting when they're not coping. Try not to argue about things but do encourage him to see his GP. You do seem to have a lot going on at the moment, is there any way of making things at home less stressful for a while at least until he's settled into his new job? Good luck to you both.

Paula x


Ditto to what everyone else has said really. I think that the breathing and relaxation techniques are very effective but are unlikely to be of any benefit to him unless he embraces the possibility that it could be an anxiety issue.

I wish you both wel;




I really think it sounds like he needs to see the doctor again. If the tests they ran were clear but the problem is still persisting then they should be investigating what else it could be. It might be dangerous to assume that it is a panic attack, but equally if the doctor tells him that this is the most likely cause he may accept this better coming from a medical professional.

I hope they get to the bottom of it soon.

Kind regards


(NRAS Helpline)


i have trouble inhaling when I breath 24 hours a day. I don't and have never smoked. i can no longer sleep longer than an hour at a time usually without waking up. I take melatonin 10 mg to do that. When I try to inhale deeply i feel my ribcage pulling upward. This happens when light exercising or anything else. Back in may 2016 i had an incident that put too much pressure on my stomach while i had held my breath too long. I have had ct scans of abdominal,pelvic and abdominal areas. I also had an xray done of my chest. At the same time I had contracted esophagititis right before this incident, but I don't see how this is causing the extreme shortness of air. The stomach problems are worse as I can only eat so much before full. I had a pft test done which showed basically nothing. It hurts to inhale during running or any slightly strenuous exercise. I can't explain it and feel stuck 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My sinuses are also constantly blocked. Some odd sensation in my nervous system keeps me fallng asleep to take a nap or rest. It is almost as if I damaged nerves in my stomach area. No sleep med will knock me out that long before my body wakes me up an hour or so later. I can't see how no one can find it. Has anyone heard of this before. The worst part is I can't rest normally and don't socialize like I was. It feels also like my throat is tight right under the adams apple. Anyway, any help determining what this is would be greatly appreciated. The thing I know it isn't is anxiety. Doctors beat that like a dead horse.



im new to this site but i can relate to that cos i would throw wobbles cos i still didnt know what i had and still dont

and the other problem is looking round and seeing jobs that need doing and you know you can only do them in bits.

stress is a bad thing

you sort of have to take one day at a time some are reasonable some are crap

ie i say to myself if you wake up in the morning it may be better and get ya pants on and see what turns up for the day (what will be will be)

but breating into a brobn paper bag helps.

try it before you take thos tablets of the doctor cos only 3 of them mad me bad.

other things that get you down is trying to ocupy your day me i used to build old vintage bikes now i cant do that but i can take me time and clean them.

mowing the lawn do a bit sit down when tired do a bit just so that you are ticking over

sitting their all day you are thinking about is and waiting for the next pain where will it come from and low and behold you think about ribs and like well ya rib hurts.

hope this is of help i know its hard i thought this is bone canser ms etc etc

and dont look on the web this can get you into other teritory.

if you can get away for a few days like when i go to caravan i feel much better (cant see all the jobs that want doing how we going to cope etc etc)

regards john


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