There are many reasons why you may have trouble taking a deep breath, including serious heart and lung ailments. However, breathlessness may also be caused by psychological conditions, such as anxiety or panic attacks, or other factors. It can be very frightening when you have trouble breathing, and you may ask yourself, “Why do I feel like I need to take a deep breath?” Here’s some information about what’s causing your breathing difficulties and how you can control them.
What Causes the Constant Need to Take Deep Breaths?
Anxiety is often the culprit of having to take deep breaths. Anxiety and having to take deep breaths often can create a vicious cycle, with stress exacerbating breathlessness, which in turn causes increased anxiety. Hyperventilation occurs when breathing is quicker and deeper than normal, which leads to decease of carbon dioxide, or CO2 in blood and you will feel lightheaded, and be short of breath.
Besides anxiety, there are many other causes of heavy breathing such as smoking, obesity, allergies, asthma, sleep apnea, Emphysema (blockage of lung’s air sacs), and cardiovascular problems. Learn the details here.
How to Calm your Symptoms
You first need to calm the hyperventilation. Try to control your respiration, breathe using the abdomen, and take fewer breaths in order to balance your carbon dioxide levels. However, you may find this difficult because of the lightheadedness and panic. Therefore, the following exercise may be more helpful:
- Inhale slowly through the nose for about 5 seconds.
- Hold this for a few seconds.
- Slowly exhale through pursed lips for 6-8 seconds.
This should control the hyperventilation. However, some of the other symptoms of breathlessness, such as chest pain, may take a while to disappear. Make sure you see a doctor to rule out any heart or lung condition. Once you get the all-clear, this may help to ease your stress.
Here’s how to do pursed lip breathing in detail:
Experiences of Others
“I had this experience earlier this year. I would feel like I need to take a deep breath just sitting and talking, would yawn constantly, and walking upstairs left me completely breathless. My family has a history of cardiac conditions, so I was concerned my symptoms were because of my heart. This worry made my breathlessness even worse. When I went to see my doctor and told her my issues, she believed that I was suffering from anxiety, and prescribed me an anti-depressant drug known as Paxil. I started off with a small, 10 mg dose two months ago, and luckily, I haven’t had any problems since. It’s strange, because I’ve never had any issues with anxiety or depression before, but this drug seems to work for me.”
“Yawning and having to take deep breaths is a strong sign that you may be suffering from anxiety and stress. I’ve been anxious all my life, and find that when I’m stressed, I need to yawn every one and a half to two minutes, which probably isn’t normal. I’m 21, and my first panic attack happened about two months ago. My doctor has prescribed me Xanax, Ativan, and, most recently Zoloft. The Xanax made me feel fatigued and clumsy; however, the Ativan worked really well and now I’m transitioning to Zoloft. You need time to adjust to Ativan, and I wouldn’t advise driving until you’ve got used to it. It definitely helped me calm down and relax, and I became less preoccupied with the constant yawning and shortness of breath. However, after three weeks, it stopped working, plus I developed some side effects, so now I’m on Zoloft. I’m yawning much less, I’ve stopped biting my nails and pulling my hair, and generally feel a lot happier."
"One of my issues was constantly thinking about my breathing problems. This made breathing forced, when it should be automatic. Forced and shallow respiration can cause lightheadedness and panic attacks, so you need to find a way to deal with this.
These symptoms could be due to an allergy to something you’re eating or breathing in. I’ve been getting this for ages, and still haven’t identified exactly what it is. Certain things bring on my symptoms, including aspirin, fermented products, and foods with too much monosodium glutamate, but that doesn’t cover everything that affects me. It’s weird, as I’ve never been diagnosed with asthma or allergies."
“If you have trouble taking a deep breath, and are constantly yawning, this could be a sign of low blood sugar. I’ve found that adding chopped raw habanero pepper to my meals really helps my deep breathing. I’ve even used it in my breakfast cereals to get me going in the morning, but if you add it to fried foods, the heat is reduced and you won’t get so much benefit. Doctors never point this out, but yawning and deep breathing is generally an indication of the body’s lack of oxygen. Hot spicy foods help you to breathe deeper and get more oxygen to your cells. Meditation, usually for 30 minutes to an hour, has also worked wonders for me.”