1. Health

The Emotional Effects of COPD

Depression, Anxiety, Fear and Remorse


Updated May 10, 2013

The emotional effects of COPD can sometimes be unbearable, particularly if you don't have a good support system. Before you can seek treatment, however, you must first learn to recognize signs and symptoms of emotional overload. The following will demonstrate what you should look for if you feel that your emotions are getting the best of you:

1. Depression

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According to About.com's Depression Guide, depression is a real illness caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain which is different from ordinary sadness. People with COPD, who also suffer from depression and/or anxiety, are at a higher risk for COPD exacerbation. Remember, you don't have to suffer alone. If you have any of the below symptoms, seek medical attentions as soon as possible:
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in things
  • Social isolation
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness

If you feel like you are suffering from depression, take this free depression screening test.

2. Anxiety

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For some, real, physical symptoms accompany an anxiety disorder. The most basic of these are an increased heart rate and sweating. But, there can also be some not-so-typical symptoms of anxiety which include:
  • Muscle tension, often found in the neck, shoulders, back and jaw muscles
  • Problems with digestion including constipation or diarrhea
  • Changes in sleep patterns, which can mean an inability to sleep, difficulty falling asleep or early awakenings
  • Panic attacks are different from generalized anxiety and include a sudden onset of a racing heart, numbness and unusual physical sensations

Any of these symptoms should alert you to see your healthcare provider.

Got anxiety? Take the anxiety self-test.

3. Fear

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We all have them -- certain fears that can cause us unusual dread and worry. Fear is our most basic and primitive of human emotions. While having a fear or two is normal, when your fears begin to cause extreme anxiety whereby they interfere with daily life, it is time to take some action.

Irrational fears are know as phobias. Symptoms of phobias include intense anxiety, preoccupation of thoughts and an overwhelming sense of doom or terror.

If you feel that fear is taking over your life, a mental health professional may help you see things more clearly. You can also try joining a COPD support group. Talking to others can help distill some of your fears and make life much more enjoyable.

4. Remorse

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Remorse is defined as a sense of regrent for past wrong-doings. Many people with COPD share that they feel intense remorse for their disease. What's even worse, because COPD is most often caused by smoking, other people can make insensitive remarks which only add fuel to the fire.

First of all, try to forgive yourself. In forgiveness, there lies peace and comfort. We all make mistakes, even the best of us. Living life with regret is a waste of energy that you could be putting into something more constructive, like developing healthy habits and taking better care of yourself. There is life after COPD, and it is time that you started to live it.

Learn how to deal with insensitive comments.


5. Source


Jennings JH, Digiovine B, Obeid D, Frank C. The Association Between Depressive Symptoms and Acute Exacerbations of COPD. Lung. 2009 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print]

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