COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a chronic lung disease that can be caused by the long-term usage of lung irritating substances such as cigarettes. Dealing with a chronic disease can be very tiring for patients, leading them to have their lives revolve around doctor appointments, regular medical tests, and medications. It can also become physically tiring for patients to continue their daily activities as they become heavily dependent on hospital visits. Patients who used to be able to do physically demanding activities find it harder to adapt to these conditions that create a feeling of lack of independence and a suffocating atmosphere.
The mental burden of dealing with a chronic disease, such as COPD, creates upon patients is commonly not discussed. However, it is important to consider mental health when dealing with COPD. Patients dealing with COPD might need to change their daily routines, as some mundane activities such as leaving the house, walking to a friends house etc. may become more tiring. Due to their lung condition, they might not be able to do the daily activities that they used to do easily, and this may lead them to feel more lonely and isolated.
Studies show that anxiety and depression are among the most common mental illnesses seen in COPD patients:
- Around 40% of COPD patients are affected by severe depressive symptoms or clinical depression.
- COPD patients are 85% more likely to develop anxiety in comparison to healthy people.
Having mental health issues along with COPD can make COPD symptoms worse and can make it harder to take care of yourself. This is why it is very important for patients with mental illnesses to get a proper diagnosis and to get some form of treatment, from medicine and support groups to therapy.
Activities such as listening to music and podcasts, watching movies, reading books and being physically active can be beneficial when dealing with mental health. Check out these links for:
- Movie, book and podcast recommendations for people who want to learn more about COPD,
- Fun daily exercises to help COPD management, and
- A list of inspiring and soothing songs to help cope with anxiety.
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- “COPD - Managing Stress and Your Mood: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine,
- Heitz, David. “Emphysema | Definition and Patient Education.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 20 Aug. 2018
- “COPD and Emotional Health.” American Lung Association
- Matte DL;Pizzichini MM;Hoepers AT;Diaz AP;Karloh M;Dias M;Pizzichini E; “Prevalence of Depression in COPD: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Studies.” Respiratory Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Nicholson, Anna. Mental Health Conditions Linked to COPD, Copd.net, 1 Apr. 2015
- Pumar, Marsus I, et al. “Anxiety and Depression-Important Psychological Comorbidities of COPD.” Journal of Thoracic Disease, Pioneer Bioscience Publishing Company, Nov. 2014
- Stage, Kurt B, et al. “Depression in COPD--Management and Quality of Life Considerations.” International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Dove Medical Press, 2006
- Yohannes, Abebaw M., and George S. Alexopoulos. “Depression and Anxiety in Patients with COPD.” European Respiratory Society, European Respiratory Society, 1 Sept. 2014