Breathing becomes difficult due to airflow obstruction caused by the chronic inflammatory lung illness known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Respiratory symptoms including wheezing, chest tightness, dyspnea, and persistent cough are indicative of it. Many things may lead to COPD, but the most frequent one is prolonged exposure to airborne irritants including dust, fumes, and cigarette smoke.
There is no known treatment for COPD, and it progressively becomes worse over time. Treatments, however, may aid in symptom management, decreasing the disease’s course, and enhancing quality of life. In addition to impairing breathing, COPD significantly affects mental well-being. It may result in stress, anxiety, and sadness, all of which may have an impact on a person’s general wellbeing.
According to Dr. Saras Prasad, Consultant in Psychiatry at Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital in Noida Extension, “People with COPD have a markedly increased risk of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Research has shown that COPD patients had two to three times the incidence of depression and anxiety disorders compared to the general population.
“The physical limitations imposed by COPD can have a significant negative impact on mental well-being,” he said. Breathing difficulties that never stop, concern about becoming worse, and a decreased capacity to do once-enjoyed activities may all feed discouragement, helplessness, and loneliness, which can lead to melancholy and anxiety.
However, as highlighted by Dr. Sameer Malhotra, Director and Head of the Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Saket, “Hormones, chemicals, and the immune system link the mind and body.” Healthy lifestyle choices are also a part of mental wellness. Addictive behavior like smoking may have a major role in COPD. There are about 4800 compounds in cigarettes. When there is a great deal of distress, chemicals and stress hormones are released, which may cause fast breathing, which can be a trigger for COPD.
People with COPD are more likely than the general population to experience anxiety and sadness. Concerns about general cognitive impairment or impairment in particular cognitive domains impacting information processing, attention, focus, memory, executive functioning, and self-control may arise for people with COPD, the speaker said.
The specialists discussed a range of tactics that might be used to meet COPD patients’ mental health requirements. Among them are:
Evaluation and screening: It’s critical to routinely check COPD patients for anxiety and depression in order to recognize the disease early and take appropriate action.
Psychotherapy: Research has shown that individuals with COPD who get cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) report lower levels of anxiety and sadness.
Medication: People who don’t react well to treatment alone may be administered antidepressants and anxiolytics to help control their symptoms.
Support groups: Being a part of a support group may provide people a feeling of belonging, empathy, and common experiences, which can help them develop resilience and coping skills.
Doctors say that by recognizing the reciprocal link between mental and physical health and by putting into practice practical mental health management techniques, we can enhance the quality of life for those with COPD. They will be better able to handle the difficulties posed by their illness and experience greater levels of wellbeing as a result.