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Anxious Cough

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Don’t know is this is the right place to ask but I’ve had a bad cough sporadically throughout the years. It only occurs when I’m having stressful or anxious thoughts. Mainly whenever I’m anxious is when it occurs. I have generally been someone who has had a lot of anxiety and since the last few weeks I’ve had some difficult personal situations to go through, I have had an increase of stress and anxiety. The cough came back the same time as this rather difficult time. At one point I do believe I had panic attacks a few years back with the cough. Was hard to tell since the cough seemed to mask the sensation of the panic attack but it seemed like it was for sure there. Now I don’t get that, but this time around I have headaches whenever the cough occurs. It doesn’t even really stay after the coughing stops. I would cough for a few minutes and the headache is usually coming and going with the cough. I’ve gone to the doctor several times for this and was tested for asthma, but that came back negative. More and more I’ve noticed it occurs during anxious times/thoughts so that is why I came here, to see if the reason behind it is more psychological.

Anxious Cough

Answered by on -


You might try tracking your anxiety and coughing. It might shed light on whether or not there’s a connection or a pattern between the two. Anxiety tends to occur in response to specific behaviors or thoughts. It’s possible that the anxiety and the coughing have become classically or operantly conditioned over time. In that sense, it may be a psychological issue.

It would be advantageous to consult a specialist about this problem. It needs further investigation. Choose a specialist who treats anxiety disorders with behavioral treatments. Behavioral treatments tend to be systematic, rapid and very effective. It could help to break the connection between your anxiety and cough (if the two are connected). Treatment could help you immensely. Thank you for your question. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Anxious Cough

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Anxious Cough. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 31 Jan 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.