It’s estimated that almost 40 percent of people with COPD suffer from depression, and it’s easy to understand why.
COPD causes a lot of changes to your body. Breathlessness, weight loss, sleeping and eating problems, and a depletion in energy are just some of the physical changes that you may experience over the course of the disease. Many of these changes can lead to feelings of loss and negativity, because you can no longer do the things you used to do. This can eventually lead to clinical depression.
Depression can actually exacerbate your physical symptoms. For example, feeling down can cause you to have trouble following your treatment plan. You may find that it’s easy to forget your medications or not exercise. You may even turn to alcohol, cigarettes or other unhealthy habits to cope, which can wreck further havoc on your body.
COPD and depression is not something to take likely. All of us have had a bad day every now and then, but when you are suffering from depression, you may experience a variety of symptoms, in addition to the effects of COPD.
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That’s why it is important to learn how to recognize the signs of depression and seek help if you need it. According to an article in the “International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,” here are some of the symptoms of depression to look out for:
▪ Fatigue and appetite changes.
▪ Sleeping problems.
▪ Thoughts about death or suicide.
▪ Hopelessness, guilt or helplessness.
How to Cope
When you have COPD, depression can add to your already fragile emotional state. People who are depressed often feel disconnected from their family and friends, and tend to feel hopeless about ever feeling good. This can make it more difficult to take care of yourself and follow the treatment recommendations of your medical team.
If you have any of the symptoms of depression, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They may want to prescribe a medication to help alleviate your depression.
It’s important to find the right medication, because many antidepressants can interfere with medications you may already be taking for your COPD.
Also, try to stay active and exercise. Joining a support group can also be beneficial to helping you connect with others. And if all else fails, do what makes you happy.
Depression can be a challenge for anyone, especially if you are suffering from COPD. If you are feeling depressed, talk to your doctor immediately and get the help you need today.