Dear Therapist: ‘I can’t take a deep breath’

Making sense of the world we inhabit



By Prateeksha Shetty

Published: Fri 1 Apr 2022, 8:48 PM

I have breathing issues without any other physiological ailments. At times when I’m overwhelmed, I find myself unable to catch a full breath but I’ve got it checked from the doctor and the oxygen range has been normal. — Tiaa R.

Dear Tiaa, your experience sounds like an anxiety attack. Your awareness that these episodes are triggered by extreme stress is a good start to recovery! You can build on this knowledge by monitoring these episodes (by journaling) to help you understand themes of anxiety. Generally, themes of anxiety could be fear of losing control, beliefs of incompetency or maybe intolerance of uncertainty. It is also advised to look for other behaviours in your life that can help put things in context — your coping strategies, avoidance of things or events, your outlook on life and stress among other things. I recommend that you begin with Body Scan Meditation; it will help you regulate your level of stress and help you feel less overwhelmed when faced with difficulties in life.


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