Living with chronic ailments can be stressful, especially for those with COPD. With 16 million Americans suffering from COPD, the constant struggle to breathe due to lung blockages can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. Temple Health pulmonologist Dr. Victor Kim notes that this can create a vicious cycle, as the constant breathlessness can provoke anxiety, which in turn can make symptoms worse.
Studies have shown that COPD patients have a higher rate of anxiety and depression than those without the condition. Dr. Kim emphasizes that patients and doctors often fail to discuss emotions, unaware that there is a physical connection between the mind and the body. However, research has shown that treating both the mind and body can improve overall health outcomes.
Dr. Kim recommends several coping strategies for managing anxiety in COPD patients, including education on breathing techniques and different maneuvers that can help improve breathing when shortness of breath occurs. He also encourages patients to join support groups for COPD patients, where they can connect with others who understand their struggles and share strategies for managing their disease.
It’s important for COPD patients to recognize that anxiety is not just in their heads and to talk openly about it with their healthcare providers. By addressing the mental health aspect of COPD, patients can improve their overall quality of life and better manage their disease.