My Story of Anxiety & Persisting Shortness of Breath

Every one of us experiences stress, and we all handle it differently. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those unavoidable parts of life. I have always suffered from mild anxiety and occasional panic attacks throughout my life, but severe anxiety has affected my life substantially within the last year and a half. Around the time that I was planning my own wedding (hold the jokes), I began having shortness of breath. I thought the worst; I have COPD or some horrific terminal illness. Web MD only fueled my fears, although anxiety was often at the top of their list.

From August to November, I lived a double life; stay at home mom by day and a writer, publisher, amateur graphic designer, and social media marketer at night. This was a particularly stressful period for me. In December 2014, I finally published my first romantic thriller novel, so I thought that my stress level would drop, and perhaps I’d be able to breathe normally again. I was wrong.

anxietybloogThe shortness of breath, which had started off slowly, only increased in intensity as the year rolled along. It eventually got to the point that it would occur for hours at a time throughout the day, causing me to constantly take deep breaths or yawn to feel like I was getting what still seemed to be an inadequate amount of air. It was both physically and mentally exhausting. In case you have not personally suffered from this sort of medical condition, the feeling of not being able to breathe is REALLY FREAKING SCARY. I went to the doctor, and he ran every test imaginable to ensure that my heart and lungs were in healthy working condition. He even checked my thyroid. Everything was fine in all of those areas, so he determined that it was anxiety, and he started me off on a low dose of Zoloft (daily) and Xanax (as needed). Neither seemed to help.

My doctor slowly increased my dosage of Zoloft, until the problem was resolved. A yeanxietyar and a half has passed since the onset of this problem, and the shortness of breath is almost nonexistent. Occasionally, I’ll have a few seconds of breathlessness, but I can manage those few seconds easily when I remember the hours of struggle that I used to suffer through. I opted not to continue with the Xanax, because of its addictive properties and the fact that the Zoloft alone works for me, but there are still people who do require that extra measure to control their anxiety. I’m hoping to slowly stop taking any medication in the near future, and through my research, I’ve created an awareness board for anxiety and depression on Pinterest, which offers many ideas and solutions to mange these issues with or without medication.

I felt alone for a while; Like something was wrong with me that I could not explain, and no one understood. When I tried to search for answers, I came across so many stories about other people who suffer from this same condition. I hope that people going through this same struggle will read this deeply personal story, and check out my awareness board to find that they are not alone. There are natural and medicinal remedies for anxiety related shortness of breath as well as depression, but you have to recognize and address the problem immediately, so it does not take complete control of your life.

For a growing board of resources to help overcome and spread awareness about anxiety and depression, visit

Thank you all for reading!

Corey Carter


About coreycarter

Corey Carter graduated from East Carolina University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. After years of keeping the majority of her short stories and poetry private, she decided that it was time to pursue her dream of becoming an author. Her first romantic thriller novel, Shadows of Deception, was published in December 2014. When Corey isn't writing, she enjoys hanging out with her family and friends by the bonfire or out on the beach. She is a proud wife and mother to a very spirited toddler, residing in Eastern North Carolina. View all posts by coreycarter

14 responses to “My Story of Anxiety & Persisting Shortness of Breath

  • Christina Thomas

    No one knew, you hid it very well. I am so happy things are better and you can enjoy your beautiful family. Love you!


  • lazarusandlithium

    Anxiety is terrifying! I experienced my first awful episode yesterday: went to the ER because I thought I was having heart problems! Nope- just anxiety 😦


    • coreycarter

      I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you are able to keep it under control. It’s tough to know that one person can cruise right through a situation, while the same scenario sends someone with anxiety into panic mode.


  • Linda Rogers

    I completely relate to what you went through with anxiety and panic attacks. My anxiety got to an all time high in my mid twenties (which is very common age). I am also on the anti-depressant Zoloft and use Xanax as needed which is not too often. My doctor figured out it’s better to pop a Xanax instead of calling an ambulance. The last ten years have been wonderful. I have learned many strategies to deal with anxiety when I feel it coming on. It doesn’t hold the power over me like it use to. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. There are Many of us that struggle with this issue.


  • Lisa Jones

    Corey. As I read this, I saw myself. Unfortunately it is hereditary in our family. Jenn suffers from it and so do I. The shortness of breath has been with me since my father died, that’s when it started and I never knew what it was, sometimes I felt like I was going crazy. After I had the kids it got a lot worse and more than once I ended up in the ER because I thought I was having a heart attack, just like you they ran every imaginable test on me and nothing was physically wrong. My general practitioner said I had anxiety disease and I needed an anti depressant. I fought it at first, and like you I did way to much on line investigating which only made me more paranoid and anxious. I finally found a medication that worked for me with few side affects. I never took Xanax , I was afraid of that but lexapro works great. Exercise is also a great way to de stress! I’m so sorry you have been going through this, but I understand because I’ve been where you are. You know where to find me if you need to talk,
    Love you,
    Aunt Lisa


  • illnesscoping

    I have unexplained shortness of breath too. I was diagnosed with anxiety but I don’t believe that is the root of my problem. Maybe it is, though. I am entertaining the notion, and I do see a psych and I’m taking Klonopin currently. It hasn’t helped yet after a year. I have constant shortness of breath. If you don’t mind me asking, I have some questions.

    Did you ever have the shortness of breath (SOB) worsen with talking, or light exertion like climbing steps? Or was it just the same always?

    I had the “yawning” thing going on too! However, I don’t typically yawn anymore. In fact, I think I did damage from yawning over 1000 times per day for a year straight. I think my airways aren’t elastic anymore from it.

    Did you have other symptoms as well? Or just breathing issues? I have 100 other symptoms.


    • coreycarter

      Sorry for the delayed response. I’ve been out of town all week. My issue of shortness of breath went away after I started taking an anti anxiety medication. I just stopped taking the medicine 3 weeks ago, and I have not had a reoccurrence. I’m trying to cope with my anxiety through proper diet and exercise. Hopefully, that will work. When the SOB was at its worst (before taking the medicine) it would occur while I was at rest. I could be in the middle of reading my child a book or doing regular activities around the house, but I’m sure it was just anxiety, because once I started taking the medication daily, I felt 95% better. I took it for nearly two years, until recently. Aside from that, I have had issues with panic attacks and fainting spells throughout my entire life. I hope this helps. Thank you for contacting me. Let me know if you have any more questions.


  • illnesscoping

    Wow, that’s amazing it worked wonders for you. I’m so happy you have found relief. I’ve heard of and talked to so many people (through health forums and such) that had SOB from anxiety. The reason I don’t think I have anxiety as my main illness is because the benzos don’t work significantly. Sure, they make you feel relaxed and calm, but they don’t help my breathing or any of my other symptoms at all. They do take the edge off, but even that edge isn’t that significant considering my array of problems. And because my SOB gets worse with exertion, that is the key word that many doctors ignore.


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