Chronic illnesses, including COPD, can cause anxiety as a common issue for individuals dealing with these conditions. It is especially prevalent in people with COPD, which affects 16 million Americans and causes breathing to become increasingly difficult over time. When this happens, the brain may perceive a stressful situation even if one does not exist. This creates a vicious cycle of breathlessness and anxiety that can worsen symptoms.
Individuals with COPD have an increased rate of anxiety and depression compared to those without the condition, impacting their treatment and outcomes significantly. Despite this, emotional health is often overlooked in the physical connection between patients and doctors. However, studies on congestive heart failure have shown that treating the heart can improve mental health and vice versa.
Dr. Victor Kim, a pulmonologist at Temple Health, emphasizes the importance of COPD patients acknowledging their anxiety and speaking with their doctors about it. He suggests coping strategies, education on different maneuvers to improve breathing during episodes of shortness of breath, and joining a support group to provide a sense of community and platform for sharing strategies for managing disease effectively.
It is crucial for COPD patients to recognize that their anxiety is not just in their imagination and seek support from healthcare professionals to address it effectively. By doing so, they can improve their overall quality of life while managing their disease better.