Being diagnosed with COPD can be tough. It is a condition which a patient knows will get progressively worse and will eventually interfere with activities of daily living. Hearing that news can be a traumatic experience for anyone. The Lung Foundation even talks about the issue of depression in connection with COPD. In fact, an estimated 40% of all COPD patients suffer from depression. The even worse news is, depression can lead to an increase in COPD exacerbations and hospital admissions and decrease overall odds of survival. So what can be done?
What to Look For
Knowing what to look for in regards to depression is important. Healthline notes the below signse:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Feelings of sadness, worthlessness or guilt
- Excessive crying
- Lack of interest in life or activities that a patient once enjoyed
- Difficulty with concentration and/or memory
- Lack of energy and chronic fatigue
These signs and symptoms should be reported to the doctor in order to come up with a plan of care for treatment.
How to Cope
Once a diagnosis of depression is made, what can be done? The good news is that there are a wide variety of options a patient can choose from to cope with this issue.
While not for everyone, antidepressants can benefit some patients trying to cope with their depression. Zoloft and Celexa, according to Healthline, are two of the most widely prescribed antidepressants for COPD patients. However, the Lung Foundation notes that choosing the right medication is a complex process where doctors and patients must way a variety of factors to best meet the individual's needs.
Healthline also notes that some COPD patients also can benefit from counselling, whether that be in the form of individual or group counselling or COPD support groups. The Lung Foundation reports that treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (which emphasizes changes in thoughts and behavior) and interpersonal therapy (which focuses on relationships) can help.
3. A Healthy Lifestyle
The COPD Foundation, a healthy lifestyle can also help improve quality of life. Exercise, for instance, can help increase serotonin levels as well as improving lung function and preventing the patient from becoming deconditioned. Quitting smoking to slow down the progression of the disease and getting plenty of sleep can also support a healthy emotional state.
4. Stress Management
Stress and anxiety can make depression worse: stress management, on the other hand, can substantially help. COPD patients who practice yoga, for instance, report decreased feelings of stress and anxiety, an increased sense of relaxation and even improved physical symptoms like lower blood pressure. Meditation, a mind-body complementary medicine provides patients with deep feelings of relaxation as well.
5. Herbal Remedies
Herbal remedies can also help COPD patients, especially those with mild to moderate depression. These can include St. John's Wort, saffron, folate and Omega-3 fatty acids,
among others. However, it is important that patients report use of herbal remedies to their doctor to prevent the possibility of drug-herb interactions.
In short, depression is a common problem for COPD patients. The good news is, however, that once the problem is recognized, there are a variety of treatment options available to resolve the issue and improve a patient's quality of life.