The official blog of the Lung Institute.
It’s estimated that almost 40 percent of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) suffer from depression. COPD causes a lot of changes to your body. Breathlessness, weight loss, sleeping issues, eating problems and extreme fatigue are just some of the physical changes that you may experience over the course of the disease. Many of these changes can lead to feelings of loss and negativity because you can no longer do the things you used to do. This can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
Unfortunately, depression can actually exacerbate your physical symptoms. When you are depressed, you can have trouble following your treatment plan. You may find that it’s easy to forget your medications, avoid exercise and choose junk food. You may even turn to alcohol, cigarettes or other unhealthy habits to cope, which can wreak further havoc on your body.
Symptoms of Depression
COPD and depression is not something to take likely. All of us have had a bad day every now and then, but when you are suffering from depression, you may experience a variety of symptoms in addition to the effects of COPD. That’s why it is important to learn how to recognize the signs of depression and seek help as soon as symptoms develop:
- Fatigue and appetite changes
- Sleeping problems
- Suicidal thoughts
- Hopelessness, guilt or helplessness
Learning How to Cope
When diagnosed with COPD, you are likely to experience feelings of sadness. That’s okay; you’re not alone. Depression can add to your already fragile emotional state. People who are depressed often feel disconnected from their family and friends and tend to feel hopeless about ever feeling well again.
If you have any of the symptoms of depression, it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. They may want to prescribe a medication to help alleviate your symptoms. Many antidepressants can interfere with medications you may already be taking for your COPD, so speaking with both a pulmonologist and psychiatrist can help maintain both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Remembering to make you a priority can help. While simply thinking positive won’t rid you of your depression, it can make each day a little more enjoyable. Despite sometimes wanting to curl into a ball, try to get involved in some kind of social activity. Whether it is joining a support group or visiting with family, by dedicating time each week to your social life, you can make sure that you still feel connected to the things you love most.
Depression can be a challenge for anyone, especially if you are suffering from COPD. Learning to live with a COPD diagnosis can be scary, but now sufferers have hope for a better quality of life with recent medical advancements like stem cell therapy. Learn how you could breathe easier by calling (800) 729-3065.