Pectus Excavatum and Panic Attack [2023]: Cause, Risk + Tips

Evidence Based This post has medical citations

The sunken chest deformity can cause significant mental health issues in patients, such as panic attacks.

Those issues usually begin with constant worrying about the perceived imperfection in your appearance, in the form of anxious thoughts that can quickly evolve into a severe panic attack.

As someone with pectus excavatum deformity, I know that from the start, you may avoid numerous social interactions because you may be embarrassed, ashamed, or nervous about your appearance.

Don’t Prioritize Your Appearance

When you have a visible hole in your chest and know everyone can see it, you become obsessed over your appearance and body image. You may always check yourself in the mirror and seek reassurance constantly.

In those situations, cosmetic procedures to correct your deformity always go through your mind.

Sometimes we don’t need any correction because we think our appearance is far worse than it is. Simply accepting ourselves is the best and simplest thing we can do.

However, in this constant strive for perfection in our appearance, we may start treatment and finish it as soon as we are satisfied. The problem is that it cannot be long-lasting if we don’t stick to it with discipline.

Continuous negative thinking and stress on our bodies can frequently influence our decision-making.

Panic Attacks Can Be Common

Most of us with pectus excavatum have experienced negative thoughts or mild anxiety. Unfortunately, it is widespread today.

Please remember that you are not alone anytime you find yourself in a circumstance when you feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts concerning this common chest abnormality.

I can guarantee that the issue is manageable with the right mindset and purpose.

Constant pressure is a passive emotion that does nothing good. The anxiety can still return, making you look for additional ways to correct your imperfection, creating a cycle of negative thoughts.

These feelings can be highly distressing or problematic.

They can disturb your social life or other areas of functioning. Being preoccupied with how your chest and body look, having excessive thoughts about it, and repeating the same behaviors are typical ways of dealing with the deformity.

However, please be aware of it and fight those thoughts and feelings.

Anxiety or even panic attacks can lead to different reactions in our bodies.

Panic Attack Symptoms

  • Shaking
  • Being disoriented
  • Experiencing rapid and irregular heartbeats
  • Breathlessness
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness (feeling that we will collapse on the ground)

These are just a few of the physical panic attack symptoms.

Few of them are similar to those that pectus excavatum is causing. Although not dangerous, panic attack symptoms can be frightening and intense and differ from those caused by our deformity.

These panic symptoms can give you the impression that you have a heart attack, may pass out, or are even about to die.

How Long They Last

Most panic attacks last between five to thirty minutes.

Try to face your fear at that moment to give yourself a chance to realize that nothing wrong will happen.

Call a friend if you have an unexpected panic episode because having someone there to reassure you that it will pass and that the symptoms are nothing to be concerned about can be beneficial.

Start paying attention to your surroundings as the tension fades, then try to carry on with your previous activities.

Breathing As “First Aid”

A breathing exercise might help you calm down if you’re’ having rapid breathing during a panic attack and can distract you from the crisis.

Close your eyes and try to concentrate just on breathing.

Inhale through your nose slowly and deeply, and exhale through your mouth.

Some people find it helpful to count slowly from one to five on each inhale and exhale.

In a few minutes, you should start to feel better as you realize that it will undoubtedly aid your anxiety and tribulations with pectus excavatum.

How To Deal With It In The Long Run

What I can point to as a personal defense system against panic attacks is:

  • Daily breathing exercises
  • Regular training routine
  • Healthy lifestyle

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises or light yoga movements combined with breathing can avoid panic attacks and help with pectus deformity problems.


Regular exercise is my primary support, especially weight-lifting training.

But you’ll be halfway there if you find any sport that soothes you and represents a safe place for making a routine out of it. Regular exercise will improve your mood, boost your confidence and help you manage your stress levels.

Healthy Lifestyle

Finally, a healthy lifestyle, sleep routine, and nutrition are some key things we should prioritize.

This may sound cliche and already heard, but be sure that it is the essence of a healthy person.

The Bottom Line

Of course, do not forget that there are professionals to support you in difficult moments that can appear in everyone’s life. So don’t be shy or afraid to seek medical help to get back on track.

2 Sources

Article by:

Mihail Veleski

I am Mihail Veleski, the person behind this website. Established in 2015, Pectus Excavatum Fix has helped thousands of people improve their sunken chest deformity, both physically and mentally. I pride myself on ensuring the information and methods I share are tried by me and backed by research. I improved my concave chest and rib flare deformities non-surgically.

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