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I have been suffering from panic attacks recently and it really, really makes me feel terrible. I feel like I am about to die. I mean, I suffer from palpitations, which really is not nice, but also there is severe shortness of breath. The first time I had a panic attack I was so sure I was having an asthma attack. I went to the doctor's in a hurry but he could find nothing wrong with me. 

How can I control this feeling of shortness of breath? It is severely frightening every single time and I really need a solution. Are there any relaxation techniques for anxiety that could help me?

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Shortness of breath is very common during panic attacks, and is often caused by hyperventilation. You are taking rapid, shallow breaths rather than deep breaths that allow your lungs to fill with air, and while stuck in the middle of a panic attack, this symptom makes you panic even more, making the symptom even worse. 

This is why breathing techniques are often suggested to cope with anxiety and panic attacks. If I were you, I would look into pranayama breathing and deep abdominal breathing. You can also practice muscle relaxation and this thing called autogenic training. It's best if you have someone, like a therapist, teach it to you, but you can also use the internet to learn more about breathing techniques for panic attacks. 

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Chest pain, palpitations, and shortness of breath are among the characterizing aspects of panic attacks. You are not alone. This is clearly not a good situation, but as far as panic attacks go, this is not only very common but even just what defines panic attacks. 

That doesn't make it any less scary though!

Does telling yourself, while you are having a panic attack, that "I am having a panic attack, I am not dying", or "these symptoms are caused by an episode of severe anxiety and I will be fine soon" help you at all?

Relaxation techniques for anxiety and panic attacks are a good idea, but I would also find a therapist. I recently read about this therapy called metacognitive therapy which sounds like it might be especially helpful to people with anxiety and panic attacks. 

Rosie

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It is normal to feel short of breath while you are having a panic attack. The question is how to get the resources you need to feel better in the long term, and numerous studies have proven that the best anxiety treatment is a combination of therapy and antidepressants. You can also get fast acting drugs (usually benzos) to help you deal with panic attacks that are happening right now. To access these things, you first need to see a doctor. In your case, I'd start with a primary care physician just in case you are actually having physical issues rather than the shortness of breath being the result of panic attacks. They can then refer you to someone else.
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I am suffering from this same problem as well. When I get these anxiety attacks or panic attacks, which at least I assume they are, I experience shortness of breath and heart palpitations. It is a very scary feeling, and before I clued in on what was going on, I literally thought I was going to die and something very serious was going on.

Then I went online and found information about anxiety attacks. It all made sense then. I am still not sure how to deal with them or whether I need to get medical help and if that would help, but I do think knowing what they are makes it just slightly less frightening.
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I believe that yogic breathing or breathing exercises is the best way to be less short of breath during an anxiety attack.

The simplest technique is just to breathe in slowly through your nose, hold it for a little, and then exhale again, once again slowly. Breathe with your whole body, not just your chest, if that makes sense.

The other thing you can do is to sit down, breathe in slowly, and then exhale saying the word "relax" to yourself. Repeat this 10 times and your panic attack will probably have subsided.

You can also prepare in advance by writing affirmations down on paper and practicing them. Try "this situation is safe", "I am in charge, not my anxiety", and simply "relax".
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Thank you. I have already done a lot of reading about anxiety and panic attacks, looking into possible relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress and even medical treatment with antidepressants or therapy. I am drawn to finding a solution for my panic attacks and at the same time, often just reading about it makes me feel more anxious because it feels more real.

Not being able to breathe is one of the most frightening things I have ever experienced so I definitely want solutions. Knowing what they are doesn't make my panic attacks less frightening to me, because I still can't breathe well!

What should I do now?
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What should you do now?

I'd venture to say that you have been doing exactly what you should have been so far. Preparing for treatment takes guts and reading up on what you can expect helps you get there. An informed patient is a less anxious patient, most of the time.

Now that you have a general idea what to expect from anxiety treatment, your next step would be to investigate therapists in your area who have experience in treating panic attacks. See who's in network for your insurance and look up reviews.

Once you have narrowed therapists down, give their office a call and see if you can set up an appointment to try.

Keep going! You're doing great!
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Thanks. I still have trouble imaging myself actually going to the doctor about this, never mind a therapist. Therapists cannot prescribe medication, can they? Just provide therapy? If I do get a doctor involved I'd prefer it to be more practical and not focused on feelings, etc. That's just me. Just thinking about lying on a couch talking about my mother makes me anxious, and the whole point here is to reduce anxiety, not make it worse. Got any tips on dealing with that aspect of the story?
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I've been in therapy, for about a year in total, on and off with two different therapists and therapy methods. It was for... overcoming a difficult period of my life that caused me a lot of anxiety. The first time I went, I was really scared. I didn't know if I would like the therapist and be comfortable talking to her at all, never mind sharing my deepest thoughts. It got easier over time. I learned to see her as a tool in my recovery process. She was professional and whether we liked each other personally or not really didn't matter. She taught me self help tools and helped me uncover thoughts I didn't even know I had. The second therapist was similar, though the method worked less well for me. Now group therapy? I'd be terrified. I can handle one person at a time, not lots. Anyway, if you feel anxious during your first session or later ones just say so. That's what they are there to help you with!
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