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a sad woman curled up around a burnt out Christmas light bulb surrounded by brightly lit light bulbs

COPD and Christmas Melancholy

Several people have contacted me in mid-November to say that they could feel that same old Christmas melancholy setting in. Trying to ignore it only makes it worse but finding a cure seems almost impossible. There are several reasons for this, and, if it helps, you are not alone. It begins as the days get darker and shorter. When the cold begins to set in, and the wind picks up. Snow is threatening. We leave our homes less, nesting. It is a time to turn into ourselves.

SAD or melancholy

We all feel this melancholy or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) to a different degree. Some people can recognize it, acknowledge it and let it go. For others, it is not so easy. It’s like a blanket that envelopes them. It is stifling, repressive and all-encompassing.

What part does COPD play?

Having a chronic disease like COPD can make symptoms much worse. Most of us know that some of this is caused by the anxiety that comes right along with COPD. Anxiety developed of our past and the situations we have found ourselves in. The anxiety about not being able to catch our breath or to be able to keep up with others. Of not knowing if help will arrive on time, and always the thought that this exacerbation could be the one.

Other reasons

Anxiety aside, there are real reasons to be concerned about our sadness at Christmas time. We are not all able to finance the Christmas we would like to have. Most of us had to leave our jobs early with little or no pension. The cost of COPD with the medications we must take daily, is often more than we can handle most of the year without the added financial cost of Christmas.

Often, we are lonely, having lost family and friends we celebrated past years with. We are unable to do what we could before and forced to lower our expectations so that we can keep up. Each of us will need to choose carefully the invitations we accept, knowing some will need to be declined.

A Christmas tree

Our Christmas tree and its decorations can trigger shortness of breath with its dust mites, pollen, mold, and other unseen irritants. You can give yourself permission to not put up a tree or cut back on how many ornaments you display. We meet more people in more confined spaces. Not all those people have had flu vaccines or not all are free of cold and viruses.

You decide

Each one of us must decide how we will move forward into the future. If you believe that you are truly SAD, try some SAD lights. There are not cheap, but they could be worth the dollars invested, especially if they help you to overcome these horrible feelings. Talk to your doctor. Pills aside he or she may have some resources for you.

If you are lonely and sad that Christmas will never be the same for us as it was when we were kids, try to be open to and embrace new traditions. Celebrations may never be as they were in the past, but sometimes that is a good thing.

Think about joining a group or getting involved in society. You are needed more than you will ever know.

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.


  • gramma4
    2 months ago

    My gracious! I read this with tears in my eyes. The article fits me to a tee. I finally, this year, gave myself an excuse to downsize. I limited the Christmas postcards I sent to relatives living across the country. Emails are fine but I still like the cards. Decorations are minimal but cheerful. My husband thankfully has gone along with all this.Thank you!

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hi gramma4,
    Everything in moderation certainly works for us with COPD. Cutting back a bit won’t damper the spirit at all. Thank you for commenting today. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • HITE1955
    2 months ago

    Amen!! @barbaramoore, Happy Holidays to TEAM!!


  • ShelbyComito moderator
    2 months ago

    Thank you so much @HITE1955!! To you as well! – Shelby, Team Member

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi gramma4, and thanks for your post. As my colleague, John, has said, it’s good to hear you have kept this years holiday activities in perspective. You’re fortunate too, to have a husband who is thinking the same way you are.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • HITE1955
    2 months ago

    ThankYou @shelbycomito, You too!

  • johnmarshall moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi gramma4. I’m so glad to hear that this article resonated with you and that you’re prioritizing your well-being this holiday season. Sometimes less truly is more. Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! – John M. ( Team)

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