People with chronic ailments often experience anxiety, and those with COPD are no exception. With over 16 million Americans suffering from COPD, the worsening lung blockages can make it difficult to breathe, leading to feelings of stress and anxiety. Temple Health pulmonologist Dr. Victor Kim notes that this can create a vicious cycle, as 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. However, Dr. Kim emphasizes that patients and doctors often fail to discuss emotions, unaware of the physical connection between the mind and the body. Treating both the mind and body is crucial for managing COPD effectively.
Dr. Kim suggests several coping strategies for dealing with anxiety related to COPD, including education on breathing techniques and different maneuvers that can improve breathing when shortness of breath occurs. He also recommends joining a support group for COPD patients, where they can connect with others who understand their struggles and share strategies for managing their disease.
It is important for COPD patients to remember that anxiety is not just in their heads and to talk to their doctors about it. By addressing the mental health aspect of their condition, they can improve their overall quality of life and better manage their disease.