Forgetting to breathe at night


Q: I go through periods of time where, of a night, I keep "forgetting" to breathe. I'll only remember again when I can feel the suffocation, and I'll have to "manually" control it for a while, only to forget again some time later. These occurrences often happen when I'm up very late, or when I am most stressed.

Is this a common problem, are there any kind of treatments or therapies that I can use, is this indicative of an underlying problem?

Symptoms:  Breathing issues, suffocation

A:   Hello. Welcome to Ask The Doctor.
I understand your concern.
Your breathing issues seems to be related to Anxiety only. Since you don't have any wheezes , coughing or breathlessness on exertion or walking.
Moreover your symptoms get worsen when you are stressed as you have mentioned.
We classify such issues under Somatization Disorders.
However its my opinion based on the available details. You should get examined by your doctor. He will auscultate your chest and evaluate you for any evidence of lung congestion or any Asthma. If he gets any wheezes he will get your Chest Xray done.
If everything is normal then you just have Anxiety related breathlessness.
I would advise you to start meditation.
Make good friends. Talk to them. Go for exercises with them.
Still if you don't feel fine you would require anti anxiety medications like Etizolam.
I hope my answer helps you.
Stay Healthy.

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