Depression and COPD Part III: What Do We Do About It?

In this series, we've explored the relationship between COPD and depression. We have gone through the reasons why COPD patients have depression.

Now, what are we going to do about it? Luckily, there are proven ways to deal with depression.

Some proven ways to deal


Several studies have concluded that seeing a therapist regularly does help us with our depression. Counselors use two main types of therapy nowadays: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). With CBT, the therapist educates the patient about their depression, and then they both discuss symptoms and come up with ways of dealing with them. In effect, the patient learns new coping skills. The goal is to lessen the disruption of depressive symptoms in daily life.1 MBCT uses these strategies, but also includes the idea of 'mindfulness,' such as 'mindfulness meditation,' in which the patient practices accepting their negative feelings as they come, but not reacting to them.

The thought is that this helps patients to reflect on these feelings without slipping into the familiar routine of depressive moods.2 Meaning the less you judge yourself, the less you self-criticize, and the less you self-criticize, the less impact depression has on you.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

In 2013 Tselebis, et al, conducted a four-year study of COPD patients in pulmonary rehabilitation.3 They included patients at every stage (I-IV), and who tested positive for depression and anxiety. The doctors found that after a three-month program, the levels of depression and anxiety that patients suffered from were significantly reduced. That is, pulmonary rehabilitation not only improved the physical symptoms but the mental ones as well.


There are a number of antidepressant and antianxiety medications on the market. These can help a tremendous amount, but there are conflicting studies of which type of antidepressant is better or worse for people with COPD. Talk to your doctor or pulmonologist so you can find the right one for yourself.


A good doctor or health care team makes a lot of difference. In a 2008 article titled, “Advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: rethinking models of care,” in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, A.C. Simpson, et al, wrote about several ways a patient-doctor collaboration would help the patient.3 These included education about COPD, decisions about the patient's health care, and efficiency of care and follow-up with patients.3Asking questions, getting good answers, and being a part of the management of your body and your disease are active ways to combat feelings of helplessness that depression so often brings with it.

Patients who find connections with other COPD patients have lower levels of depression and a higher quality of life.4 Sharing experiences with friends who not only understand them but experience them as well is a valuable coping tool. When we are a part of a community like, or other support groups we feel less isolated.

I think my dear friend said it best when she said:

“The social media is amazing too. You literally never have to be alone. No matter the time or however far you are you can always hop on for a digital hug. Someone will be there to help. Count on it. You are never alone.”

If you think you are depressed or have been diagnosed with depression, take it seriously. Talk to your doctor or specialist and see what steps you can take to help yourself.

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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.

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