Depression and COPD
Last updated: June 2018
Every day to some might seem a struggle. With COPD it’s difficult to breathe, it seems you are coughing more often than not. The cough isn’t productive enough to get out the mucus plug and to cough up the mucus that is affecting your lungs and airway. It takes so much out of a person. This is a part of your life.
People with chronic illnesses are prone to depression and those with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) are as well. Some may wonder why COPDers are prone to depression. Some may wonder why they are prone as well.
A scary diagnosis
One day you are diagnosed with COPD. You might not understand what COPD is all about. You hear things that can be scary. You hear that COPD is the third leading cause of death and that COPD is non-reversible. Beyond that, you don’t hear anything. Maybe you feel numb, dumbfounded. Maybe you don’t know where to turn. Who has answers?
The internet has answers. You search COPD, you search lungs, you search non-reversible. What does it all mean? Reading things that are online contradict each other, some are the same and very little makes sense. It’s overwhelming!
You search Facebook groups and join a couple of them. Everything is a bit intimidating, so you “lurk” (observe without typing). Some things make sense. That’s why you’ve had more trouble catching your breathe and wheezing too. Finally, you are a bit more comfortable, so you say hi and that you’re new. People are reaching out to you, they understand you. You aren’t alone!
They don’t know you though or all you are going through. You hear others talk about depression and realize that’s what you are going through. You wonder how to tell family and friends about your COPD. You wonder if you should even do that, but realize that since you have a serious disease, someone should know.
Sharing the news
You tell your family, they don’t really understand and you don’t know how to explain it to them. You tell your friends when you see them too. You show them online articles and try to explain what the doctor said and what others have said. They are concerned, but not quite sure what to say. They ask if you will need oxygen and if you are still smoking. They wonder if it’s contagious (there you can mention Alpha-1 which is the genetic form of COPD).
Just like that, you are seeing a change in other people. They don’t call as often to do things, because you aren’t able to do the things you used to do, like hiking and the physical things. This happens with some family members as well. You don’t go out for cocktails, because smoking is permitted in the favorite places.
At this point, it may be difficult for some to see beyond this point in life. It’s hard to see that there is something beyond that moment. Let me tell you, there is more. This is the beginning of your life. That may not seem promising or even what you want to hear, but it’s true.
You may realize that you can’t do all of the things that you could before. Can you do them differently? Can you pace yourself? Can you just find something new to do?
Abandonment and struggle
You feel abandoned by your friends, maybe you will find new friends. Maybe you will meet new people in a support group, a Better Breather’s club, or some other organization.
You may be finding yourself struggling more financially, that can be very depressing. Check around, talk to your doctor and pharmacy to see if there are free samples or coupons. You can write the manufacturer to see if you can get assistance.
For each of the things causing your depression, things that you are struggling with, know that you don’t have to go through these alone. Depression, anxiety, are real. Talk with your doctor. Maybe he/she would prescribe you an antidepressant. Counseling and support groups can also be very helpful, as well as online support groups. Here at COPD.net we are here for you too.
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