Everyone gets the blues. But for people living with COPD, depression can be a constant worry.
COPD comes with physical symptoms that can be unpleasant, such as breathlessness, weight loss, problems with sleeping and eating, and fatigue. These symptoms can bring on frustration and sadness, particularly if they prevent you from participating in your favorite activities.
People living with COPD might even experience depression, a mood disorder that causes you to feel sad and disinterested.
One study estimated that 40 percent of people with COPD suffer from depression.
As if that wasn’t enough, depression can make the physical symptoms of COPD worse. Feelings of sadness can make it difficult to follow your treatment plan. Important tasks like taking your medication or exercising might be forgotten or feel too overwhelming. So what is there to do?
If you have COPD, it’s important to pay attention to your emotions.
You may want to discuss your feelings and mental state with your doctor. Several symptoms of depression can overlap with symptoms of COPD, making it tricky to recognize. These symptoms could include:
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness over many weeks or frequent crying
- Feeling hopeless or even suicidal
- Finding it hard or exhausting to interact with friends and loved ones
- Feeling ashamed or worthless
Some of the physical symptoms your doctor might consider include:
- Trouble falling asleep or waking up
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling apathetic towards people or activities you once enjoyed
- Lethargy or lack of motivation
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Loss of ability to enjoy yourself or find humor in things
Antidepressants and COPD
If you have a few of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor right away. They may want to prescribe medication to help.
Whenever you are starting a new medicine, you should make sure your doctor knows about any medication you are already taking. There are some antidepressants that may interfere with your COPD medications.
Therapy, Depression, and COPD
In addition to medication, many people suffering from depression find help by talking with a mental health professional. Group or individual therapy can make a difference in learning to manage and adapt to life with COPD. Ask your healthcare provider or your pulmonologist for a referral to a therapist who has experience working with COPD patients.
Support groups can also offer added benefits for people managing depression and COPD. You may discover some real-life tips and advice by talking to others going through the same hardships. Many support groups can even be accessed online.
Remember: You aren’t the first person to feel this way and you are not alone. Finding others can be a great first step toward recovery.
Help is Out There
Living with a disease like COPD can naturally lead to feelings of sadness or loss. For some people, those feelings persist and might develop into depression. Taking depression seriously and getting treatment is important for your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Left untreated, your depression may affect your ability to stick to your treatment plan, making your COPD worse.
If you need help managing your COPD, then check out the Hailie™ solution. The Hailie™ solution is always by your side to help you manage your respiratory condition.