Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Depression and COPD

Depression and COPD

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!

Connecting online

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 we are here for you too.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • luvmylife1948
    2 years ago

    It is hard to get the mucus out. I drink 2 glasses of water each morning after getting out of bed then I have a smoothie and the water does help with mucus but still difficult to expel it. It gets stuck in my throat. Also there is the difficulty of having to cough up phlegm when family members are present. There is no place to go to be private when one is choking with phlegm and having to cough and cough to expel it. Embarrassing disease

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi again luvmylife1948 and you make an excellent point. Some people find it helpful to have tissues or handkerchiefs on hand for just these difficulty times. These coughs can certainly sneak up on us when we’re with friends/family and there sometimes is no privacy – that can be challenging and, as you pointed out, embarrassing. I thought you might find it helpful to look over this article on ‘strategies to improve your cough’: Wishing you the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Poll