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"Is my anxiety causing my shortness of breath?"

ZocdocAnswersIs my anxiety causing my shortness of breath?


I have some trouble with anxiety ever now and then and I also have shortness of breath. Are they related? Is my anxiety causing my breathing trouble?


Anxiety and shortness of breath are two commonly encountered problems in the primary care setting. These two conditions can certainly be connected; while some patients with underlying anxiety develop shortness of breath as part of increasing anxiety and panic attacks, other patients will become more anxious as a result of feeling short of breath due to another separate condition. As not all shortness of breath is from anxiety, a thorough medical history and physical exam is warranted to determine the most likely cause of your shortness of breath. Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, can be caused by a variety of underlying illnesses. Patients with low blood counts (anemia) can feel short of breath, as well as patients with underlying coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure. Heart conditions associated with shortness of breath may be associated with worsening symptoms with exertion, chest pain or lower extremity swelling, but not always. Underlying lung disease such as asthma or emphysema/COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) can also manifest as shortness of breath. Your doctor can assess your risk factors for these other potential causes of dyspnea, and if needed, can rule out these conditions with different measures. Please talk to your primary care doctor to establish a diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment.

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