For anxiety relief, by far the best type of therapy is CBT, which is cognitive behavioral therapy. It's proven to work .... and certainly has for me.
CBT is different than most normal therapies in that in doesn't go back to your past and deal with Mom and Dad issues about what be causing the anxiety but specifically uses different methods to stop the anxiety and the thoughts that perpetuate it.
It uses "replacement thoughts"... for example, if you think you're going to have a heart attack and die because you're so nervous and anxious... the therapist will ask if you have you had a heart attack in the past? Did you die? If your 40 years old and haven't had a heart attack yet, what are the chances you'll have one today?
Stuff like that. So, if you see a therapist, please make sure it's one who specializes in anxiety and uses CBT. It can make all the difference in the world.
And exercise helps a lot too. Gets the endorphins going the blood flowing, and gets you out of that anxiety mindset. It will help you breathe better too.
As far as meds go, I'm just like you! I hate taking them. But here's the upside: If you take a Xanax, and you know that it helps... even temporarily... it'll make you realize how much the anxiety is playing a factor in your health. And there are no side effects from a low dose, except maybe a little sleepy. I'm very skinny and super sensitive to side effects too, so drugs scare me as well. But the Xanax leaves your body about 12 hours after you take it. No residual effects at all. It just calms the nervous system down.