Depression can be a big problem for people diagnosed with a chronic disease. The knowledge that you now need to take medications that you didn't need before can make people feel trapped. It's understandable and natural to feel a loss of confidence when you can't breathe correctly or function the way you could in the past.
According to a recent study done in the UK, it was found that COPD is a significant cause of depression in the population. The study followed 169 COPD patients over a period of 1 year and found that the signs and symptoms of depression increased dramatically during times of exacerbation.
Another common feeling that comes along with the diagnosis of COPD and can lead to depression, is the feeling of guilt. Smoking tobacco has been known to cause 80% of the cases of COPD, the last 20% being attributed to high levels of pollution and poor air quality. Feelings of having been the direct cause of your own condition can occur. In fact, many chronic conditions are caused largely in part by poor diet and lifestyle choices.
There are several other reasons related to COPD that someone can become depressed. People with COPD often have trouble sleeping, which can be a big contributing factor to depression. Feeling alone in your condition and not having a good support network can lead to feeling isolated, especially if you use constant oxygen and feel inclined to stay home more often.
Being depressed can also make your condition worse. It can make you not want to move and will begin to wear down on your immune system. When you don't want to get up at move, your lung function will actually get worse because your lungs aren't being used as much.
People with COPD are encouraged to get light cardio exercise to help improve lung function. Also, if you don't make an attempt to get out of the house or go back to doing the things you enjoy, you will become more depressed.
If you are feeling down for more than 2 weeks straight, don't hesitate to discuss the possibility of depression with your doctor. He or she will give you advice on how to cope. If you can't shake it on your own and you are found to have full-blown depression, your doctor will most likely refer you to a therapist, who can help you further to treat it.
Some of the ways you can help yourself feel better are to keep in contact with the people you care about, and talk to other people who have COPD. You should also make an attempt to get back to doing things you enjoy, such as hobbies or fun activities. Getting physical activity and fresh air can do wonders for how you feel, so you should go outside and enjoy nature,or go for a walk. You should be able to take your oxygen machine and tank with you, or if you have a portable oxygen concentrator, so you don't need to feel completely restricted. In fact, you can do almost everything you could before.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about COPD, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.