Anxiety and Fear With COPD.

Anxiety and Fear With COPD

You may know what it’s like to struggle to breathe, or to worry about having a panic attack, so you are possibly afraid to go out, go to bed, or even be around people.  These are things that many experience.

Anxiety can make you feel sick to your stomach, nervous, and helpless.  Anxiety can give you a heavy feeling, a feeling of hopelessness; it can cause you to feel panic, to be afraid.  Are you afraid to go outside or to be around people? Are you afraid to go to bed because you might not be able to breathe?

Anxiety can cause fear because of so many things.

It’s so important that you talk with your doctor about this or a therapist.  You have so much living to do and your quality of life is important. An antidepressant or other medication might help you to feel better and to function better. Talking and sharing about how you are feeling, can help you to overcome some of these fears and anxious feelings.  Ask if there is a Better Breathers group in your area, where you can participate in a face to face support system.

Do you participate in social media?

There are so many different sites available for those with COPD and their families. Sites where you can talk to others who understand much of what you are going through. They are possibly going through similar things. We also have forums here on COPD.net where you can discuss things that you want to know or talk about, or a Q&A tool if you have a question.  Also under these articles, there is a place for your comments.  You aren’t alone.

Maybe your family members need support to understand what you are going through. Share reading material with them. Share social media sites for them too. If you want them on different sites so that you can talk freely, there are individual sites for them as well. COPD is a family disease. Helping them might help them understand what you are going through. This could help all of you.

It takes time to overcome or adjust to changes and things in our lives.

Knowing that we have COPD can cause us to be anxious, even cause panic attack. Maybe there is uncertainty of what the future holds that is causing a reaction. No one, not even a non-COPDer knows what the future holds. Once we realize that we still have living to do, we can fight to accept this and learn how to cope.

Things that you can do for you and your COPD:

Consistency can help your body and mind to function and be strong.  If you are on oxygen, be sure to use it as prescribed also. If prescribed, this is important, to keep your body and organs healthy. Keep a journal, this might help you find a pattern to the things that trigger your anxiety and what might help you to find relief.  Use this to make a list of things to talk to your doctor or therapist. Use your support system as well.

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

Comments

View Comments (16)
  • WillDoe
    10 months ago

    Hi Angie!
    I’ve noticed that my closet smells “musty”. I still hang-out with the smokers, they are my biggest support team! They cheer me on ‘Keep at it, Will’!
    I’ve been having a real time of it lately, though. It’s like I’m going to have a smoke, but I’ve quit. I keep playing games with myself. I’ll go to it sit down and realize that I don’t have my cigarettes at the table, turn to get them, but don’t have any in the apartment!
    50 years of habit is hard to break. I’m still on the patches… My cardiologist say to use the patches, just don’t smoke.

  • lovinggrandma
    9 months ago

    Well, wil, i am a VERY naughty girl. For the last three years before diagnosis, I was on the highest milligram patch daily and smoked a pack every 3 days. Then I went down to the 21 mg patch daily and a pack of cigs once weekly. I thought I was doing great, but I was in denial. My weight had dropped to 111 from 145 within 2 years. I had no appetite. At all. The night before I went to the hospital, my speech was slurry, I stopped talking in mid sentences, I was just acting weird! When my daughter came to check on me, she immediately put the pulseometer on my finger and my o2 was 69. To make a long story short, I went by 2 ambulances to a large hospital 70 miles away. I checked in at 103 lbs and I’m 5’6″”. The sad part is I suspected copd or cancer but could not afford insurance and nobody took payments. Now I’m on o2 24/7 along with all my other breathing items and find this disease horrific. I wish I’d never seen a cigerate and wish we could all sue the tobacco companies. Now that I’ve vented, I feel better but still want a cigerate***isn’t that soOo stupid? I haven’t had one since Jan. 24, 2017. KEEP. HOLDING ON!! EVERYONE HAS good days and bad days. KEEP in touch, Angie. P.s. I’ve been smoking off and on since I was 16. Then everyday since I was 18. I’m now almost 62 on July 6. Bye!!

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi WillDoe – we hear you. It’s absolutely commendable that you’re quitting smoking and using the patch. We know how hard that can be – in fact, our entire online community understands this. Keep up the good work!! Leon (site moderator)

  • Janet Plank moderator author
    10 months ago

    Hi WillDoe
    Good for you for your quit! How long ago did you quit? That’s big and so important. Second hand smoke isn’t healthy for you and that does go in your lungs, as you can tell by musty clothes, you are affected. I do understand wanting to be with your friends and it’s great they are supportive. Is there a place you can all go together where no one is smoking while you are together? Who knows, maybe some will follow your example and quit for themselves.

    I quit smoking almost 16 years ago and I find myself reaching for cigarettes at times too. Thankfully though, I haven’t had any desire to smoke. If someone is smoking in the area, it really sets me off, coughing and short of breath, so I get away from the area quickly. We live in a state where there is no smoking in public buildings anymore. I guess a person still can in the big casinos.

    50 years is a long time, as you mentioned. Good for you for breaking that habit, I hope those patches are working well for you. Please keep us posted and let us know how you are doing.

    Here are a couple of links on quitting smoking. It would be wonderful if you would share how you quit, was there something beyond the patch?

    https://copd.net/living-with-copd/pulmonary-rehab/lifestyle/quitting-smoking/

    https://copd.net/basics/causes-risk-factors/smoking/

  • Janet Plank moderator author
    10 months ago

    Have a good evening!
    Janet (site moderator)

  • lovinggrandma
    10 months ago

    Hello. I am extremely anxious and if I go outside to get the mail and get very sob, I’ll have a panic attack and urinate all over myself b4 I can get inside and get my oxygen on. Does anyone else have this problem?

  • 8 months ago

    Yes, I certainly do. When I can’t catch my breath, that is the first reaction I have. Usually it’s when I am in someone’s car (I no longer have a car) as a passenger. Once while in an Uber, I was so scared because I couldn’t get my breath and afraid I might damage the Uber’s car. (I didn’t.) But when those type things are happening, is it any wonder we don’t relish going anywhere? I totally get what you are saying.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi TalkDoc and thanks for your comments and sharing your experience with COPD and anxiety. We appreciate your input and the sharing of ideas.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • WillDoe
    10 months ago

    Hi Gram!
    I’m at the stage where I bounce between anger and fear. Both of these can keep me up at night or from enjoying what I have set out to do.
    The panic attacks that you mentioned, seem to be an extension of the fear that I feel.
    How did you come about the COPD, mine is from smoking for 50 years (I have only just quit back in March).
    Love and best wishes
    Will

  • lovinggrandma
    10 months ago

    Also, a biggie—i haven’t touched a nasty cig since Jan. 24,2017. I can smell every person who smokes and can’t believe I smelled like that!! My boyfriend has never smoked=nor has my daughter!

  • lovinggrandma
    10 months ago

    Oh will, my mother(surely not knowing any better)had me light her cigarettes on the stove when she ran out of matches or a lighter–i was probably 9 or 10 when it started. I then really started when smoking was cool. Wasn’t that just solo stupid??? Mother smoked corn husks when she was about 10 in North Carolina. She passed away in 1999 at 83 of Alzheimer’s. Toward the end, she still continued smoking but she only took 1 drag then put it out, then wanted another. My daughter and I moved in with her bc my oldest brother said she needed to go in a nursing home. Out of 6 children, me being the “baby, I had promised she would NEVER go to a place like that. So, I got someone to be with her while I had an office manager’s position during the day, my daughter, 13 at the time, looked after her until I got home @6:00 and I had her nights and most weekends. All I went thru with her in the final year I don’t regret for a minute. And you know what? She knew me, my daughter and boyfriend. My siblings didn’t come around much, so she lost touch with them. I loved her so much I would do it again in a heartbeat…but would seek a counselor if I had to do it again. Warm regards, angie

  • Janet Plank moderator author
    10 months ago

    Hi lovinggrandma
    Getting short of breath can cause panic for some. I can’t imagine how this must feel. Coughing and sometimes just moving has caused leakage, so I do have to wear a pad. That gets embarrassing too, thankfully no one can see that it happens.

    Practice pursed lip breathing and see if that will help to reduce your anxiety, plus it gives a focus.
    Try to empty your bladder before going outside.
    Are you able to wear something similar to a Poise pad or Depends? These can really help.
    Does your oxygen tubing get close to your mailbox so that you can get close to your mailbox while wearing it?
    Do talk with your doctor as well.

    Thank you for coming forward.
    Janet (site moderator)

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi lovingrandma – I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Anxiety and SOB can be so debilitating. As Leon already said, you are definitely not alone. We hear story after story of people that go through the same thing. The article that Leon shared with you is great – I hope you get a chance to read it. It may not be a remedy, but it sure is great to know we’re not alone in our trials.

    Warmest Regards,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi lovinggrandma and thanks for your post and candid explanation of your circumstances. You are definitely not alone! Other community members have articulate similar situations for themselves at various times throughout their day. I thought you might find it helpful to look over this article on that very topic: https://copd.net/living/an-embarrassing-situation/. Wishing you the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Babagran
    2 years ago

    I, often wake up in the morning entering into a panic attack. It will take as long as 15 minutes to calm myself. I do not know how to alleviate this!

  • Janet Plank moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Babagran.

    Does the panic attack wake you or does it affect you once you are awake?

    If it affects you after you are awake, do your pursed lip breathing right away. That can possibly help you relax by controlling your breathing, before you have a chance to go into a panic mode. Then take the time to have a cup of coffee, tea, water or something that can help relax you and bring you into your day. These may not stop a panic attack, but it might help to reduce it or change the way it affects you.

    If the panic attack wakes you, do you remember having any bad dreams? Try to do your pursed lip breathing. It does take focus and helps a person to relax their breathing, which is healthier for your body as well. Try some meditation or even a cup of tea or coffee, to see if that helps.

    Talk to your doctor, maybe he/she has a recommendation. They can possibly give you an antidepressant which may help. Also utilize your support system. Online groups usually have someone around to talk with. When they open, you can talk with a counsellor or someone who you reach out to as well.

    I know that panic attacks can seem very out of control, so I do recommend that you talk with your doctor as well, so he/she stays informed and can help you the most.

    Here are a few other articles that we have on Panic Attacks.
    https://copd.net/?s=panic+attacks&submit=Go

    I wish you well and hope that you are able to get some relief. Please let us know how you are doing.

    Janet

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