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5 Psychological Challenges of Lung Disease and How to Overcome Them

23 Dec 2015
| Under Lung Disease, Medical, Mental Health | Posted by | 12 Comments
5 Psychological Challenges of Lung Disease and How to Overcome Them

The psychological effects of lung disease can be challenging.  Here’s what you can do.

Anyone suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can tell you that the psychological effects of the disease can be just as debilitating as the physical. And as the effects of lung disease become more pronounced, they can erode one’s previous quality of life creating feelings of shame, helplessness, fear, depression and a lack of motivation. Although these issues can be overwhelmingly difficult to overcome, with your health in mind, the Lung Institute has put together a short list addressing 5 psychological challenges of lung disease and how to overcome them.

5. Shame

5 Psychological Challenges of Lung Disease and How to Overcome Them

Shame is a feeling we all experience at one time or another. It is the voice inside reminding us of some internal weakness that seems visible for all to see. For those who suffer from lung disease, this feeling can be unshakeable. It can start with an incessant cough in a crowded place, unwanted scrutiny of an oxygen tank, or exhaustion in the presence of family members.

How to Overcome

When dealing with shame, it’s important to remember that you’re your own best friend. Give yourself positive reinforcement–tell yourself you’re great until you mean it, forgive yourself for your mistakes, and challenge your negative thoughts. You forgive those you love—forgive yourself as well, and move forward without looking back.

4. Depression

5 Psychological Challenges of Lung Disease and How to Overcome Them

It’s been said that depression is rage turned inward–a sadness that seems to seep into one’s total outlook on life. And it’s not uncommon. Depression is often introduced after diagnosis, and as deeply ingrained as it may seem, this common affliction is possible to overcome. The key is to start small and build up.

How to Overcome

In tackling depression, the first thing to realize is that it’s okay to feel depressed; it’s temporary. In starting small, develop happiness from within by doing the things you love. It could be anything. Have a conversation with someone you love. Watch your favorite show, go fishing, or play ping-pong. Perhaps most importantly, practice being mindful of the things life has given you to be grateful for. No matter how dire your circumstances, if you sit down with pen and paper and make a “gratitude list,” you will be amazed by how many items flow from your pen. This takes practice, and starting can seem pointless, but practicing gratitude builds its own momentum, and that can result in joy.

3. Fear

5 Psychological Challenges of Lung Disease and How to Overcome Them

Fear is universal, but it isn’t always a negative. At its worst, fear can be crippling.  And for those facing the incurability of lung disease, the future can look scary. On the other hand, ask yourself, “What is courage?” Courage is feeling fear and acting anyway; it’s moving forward in the face of fear that defines bravery.

How to Overcome:

The difference in being shaken by fear and overcoming it is the decision to act. And the key to overcoming fear is changing your perception. To realize that it’s okay to be afraid, as long as it doesn’t stop you from making that first step.  Resolve to make your own decisions, not to allow fear to make them for you.

2. Helplessness

5 Psychological Challenges of Lung Disease and How to Overcome Them

For those with a disability, the feeling of helplessness is common. Believing they are incapable of caring for themselves a feeling of helplessness can be more constructed than real, fostering in an unnecessary dependence on others. Instead of asking first what they can do for themselves, even if it’s only one small thing, someone suffering from helplessness looks to others.

How to Overcome:

Ask yourself what you can achieve on your own before asking for help.  Mentally separate yourself from those that you feel dependent on by regaining your individualism. After some time and renewed independence, re-establish relationships within a new dynamic. You’ll surprise yourself, and others, with what you can do.

1. Lack of Motivation

5 Psychological Challenges of Lung Disease and How to Overcome Them

More than other entries on this list, loss of motivation may be most common. Whether it’s a pledge to get in shape, change a diet, or learn a new language, we’ve often felt a lack of willpower to act. For people with COPD and other lung diseases, a lack of motivation in changing their lifestyle can lead to personal catastrophe.

How to Overcome:

Set realistic goals with a purpose in mind. Ask yourself if a goal supports the overall purpose. If not, consider abandoning it. As the 16th century samurai Miyamoto Musashi wrote, “Do nothing which is of no use.” In moving towards your goal, remember that progress isn’t always easy; envision success when you succeed and regret if you were to quit. Draw inspiration from as many sources as possible, and be willing to forgive yourself. And always remember, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.


A shift in positive outlook is critical for living with COPD and other lung diseases, but for physical relief, alternative treatment may be necessary. If you or a loved one suffers from COPD, or any lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of cellular treatment options. Contact us at 888-745-6697 to find out if you qualify for cellular therapy!

Struggling with the psychological challenges of Lung Disease? We encourage you to share your story, thoughts and comments on our list of 5 Ways to Overcome the Psychological Challenges of Lung Disease.

* Every patient is given a Patient Satisfaction Survey shortly after treatment. Responses to the 11-question survey are aggregated to determine patient satisfaction with the delivery of treatment.

^ Quality of Life Survey data measured the patient’s self-assessed quality of life and measurable quality of improvement at three months of COPD patients.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

As required by Texas state law, the Lung Institute Dallas Clinic has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from MaGil IRB, now Chesapeake IRB, which is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program (AAHRPP), for research protocols and procedures. The Lung Institute has implemented these IRB approved standards at all of its clinics nationwide. Approval indicates that we follow rigorous standards for ethics, quality, and protections for human research.

Each patient is different. Results may vary.