Couple walking and talking

When you have COPD, you may feel sad or worried about your health, inability to do the things you once enjoyed and uncertainty about the future. That’s why it’s common for patients with COPD to have depression or anxiety.

Depression and anxiety are different mental health conditions but they often occur together. Depression can occur when you feel intensely sad and helpless for several days or weeks and are unable to live your life normally as a result. Anxiety disorders can also keep you from living your life normally, causing you constant worry and fear.

Studies show people with heart disease are twice as likely to develop depression than those without it. Signs of depression include:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • More fatigue than usual
  • Irritability
  • Withdrawing from normal activities
  • Negative thoughts

So, if you are feeling blue, what should you do? Don’t ignore your emotions.

Patients with COPD may minimize their sadness and even dismiss it, thinking it will go away over time. But COPD doesn’t go away, and chances are, neither will depression or anxiety until you get the support you need.

The first step is to talk about how you’re feeling with your doctor. There are lots of treatment options, including medication, counseling and a combination of both. A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, good nutrition, quality sleep and ways to relax like deep breathing and meditating can also help you manage depression and anxiety. Try these tips:

  • Call your doctor – You doctor can evaluate your symptoms and either begin treatment or connect you with a mental health professional who can help.
  • Take a walk – If you don’t already exercise, start gradually. Even 10 minutes at a time can help.
  • Choose healthy snacks – Many people eat when they feel sad. Grab a piece of fruit or fresh vegetables instead of something salty or sugary.
  • Stop smoking – Instead of turning to cigarettes for stress relief, drink a glass of water, listen to music or read a book. Your heart and mind will thank you for it!
  • Try gentle yoga or Qigong – Yoga and Qigong are moving meditations. You get the benefit of gently moving your body while focusing on your breathing to calm down and feel more relaxed.Check with your doctor first before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Meditate – Meditation doesn’t have to be clearing your mind to emptiness. There are guided meditations that help calm your mind and create a feeling of relaxation. Getting your mind off of things for a little while can do wonders for you and help you feel less depressed or anxious.

UM BWMC has a growing list of short videos that feature yoga, Qigong and meditation.