Shortness of breath in neurosis. How to recognize this symptom and cure it?

Nervous shortness of breath can be a symptom of neurosis, anxiety disorders or depression. It may present as feeling short of breath, difficulty taking a full breath, or a feeling of heaviness in the chest. To overcome shortness of breath in neurosis, you need to learn to deal with fear. A psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist can help with this.

Shortness of breath (lat. dyspnoe) is a subjective feeling of breathing problems. It is a broad term and can include conditions such as rapid breathing, shallow breathing, difficulty catching a deep breath, feeling short of breath and heaviness in the chest. The symptom may occur suddenly or be a chronic problem. Finding the cause of shortness of breath is a challenge for the doctor, because difficulty breathing can be both somatic and psychogenic.

Shortness of breath in neurosis : how to recognize it?

Shortness of breath is a common symptom of various mental disorders, especially anxiety disorders (colloquially neurosis) and depression. Shortness of breath is characteristic of vegetative (neurasthenic) neurosis. Although it is a mental disorder, it causes symptoms on the part of the body. In addition to shortness of breath in neurosis, other symptoms appear:

  • palpitations
  • tightness in the chest,
  • tightness in the throat ("lump in the throat")
  • headaches and dizziness
  • dry mouth, blushing
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • sweating
  • paresthesia , e.g. in the form of numbness, tingling of the arms, legs or around the mouth.
  • irritability,
  • anxiety.

Because of these symptoms, people with neurosis often first come under the care of gastroenterologists or cardiologists who try to find the cause of their ailments. If the test results are normal, the shortness of breath does not worsen over weeks or months, it is most likely psychological.

Causes of shortness of breath on the nervous background Vegetative neurosis is a mental disorder, the

development of which is contributed by individual susceptibility, stress, fatigue, as well as strong emotional experiences.

Shortness of breath, which often occurs in the course of neurosis, can be combined with fear of death and panic attack. The patient is afraid that chest tightness and breathing problems will cause him to suffocate. Fortunately, this scenario is unrealistic. There is no way that the body without any somatic reason turned off access to oxygen. Even if the patient has trouble breathing for a while, the brain will eventually force him to breathe.

Sometimes, as a result of neurotic dyspnea, there is also rapid, uncontrolled breathing. This can exacerbate unpleasant symptoms such as dizziness, numbness and tingling of the limbs associated with hyperventilation.

Treatment of shortness of breath in neurosis

First of all, it is necessary to realize that shortness of breath in neurosis is not dangerous, will not cause suffocation or other serious consequences. Often, the very realization that shortness of breath results not from illness, but from fear and is not life-threatening, as well as accepting the symptoms of stress, can bring relief and allows you to get rid of the nagging ailment.

If shortness of breath with neurosis appears frequently, hinders functioning and is the dominant symptom, the doctor may recommend the use of antidepressants and sedatives. Psychological therapy is useful, which will help to find the cause of tension and teach to master fears. It is worth trying relaxation methods. These can be different ways to calm down:

  • walking in the woods
  • talking to a kind
  • calm person
  • meditation
  • reading an interesting book
  • breathing techniques
  • playing with the dog
  • cooking
  • caring for flowers or other quiet household activities
  • warm bath
  • listening to quiet music
  • making handicrafts (painting, embroidery

A proper, healthy diet is also important, which has a beneficial effect on the whole body.

Cancer or asthma?

The most common causes of shortness of breath Other possible causes of shortness of breath

Difficulty breathing is a common symptom of neurotic disorders, but it can also indicate many other health problems. Possible causes of shortness of breath are:

  • bronchial asthma
  • pneumonia
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • coronary heart disease
  • pulmonary embolism
  • heart failure
  • foreign body in the airways
  • anaemia,
  • physical inactivity, sedentary work.

It is worth remembering that shortness of breath accompanying diseases such as asthma or COPD increases the risk of developing depression or anxiety disorders. It is an ailment that can be both a symptom of mental disorders and (when it results from illness) favor them. Therefore, it is important to help a patient who, due to his condition, has difficulty breathing, because it affects his general well-being and prognosis.



4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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