COPD Patients are Often Plagued with Depression

Patients battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) could also face a higher risk of depression.

Patients battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) could also face a higher risk of depression.

A study conducted by scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in England found that one in four patients with COPD suffered “persistent depressive symptoms” during the three-year study period. More importantly, if gone untreated, the depression could pose negative effects on the patients’ overall health.

Using data from 5% of Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with COPD between 2001 and 2011, a second study from the University of Texas reported that 22% of those patients had one of more psychological disorders.

Recently published in CHEST, the study indicated that the likelihood of 30-day readmission to the hospital was higher in patients with COPD who had depression, anxiety, psychosis, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse, compared with those who did not have these disorders.

Interestingly, experts pointed out that depression particularly affects COPD patients, since some often fault themselves for developing the disease by smoking, although it can also be caused by factors like asthma or dusty work environments.

According to David Mannino, MD, professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, at the University of Kentucky, “They call it ‘the same-and-blame game’ because a lot of people who have it feel like they brought it on themselves and got what they deserved.”

Although it isn’t clear whether depression itself makes the disease worse, researchers suggest these particular COPD patients should exercise to work out their level of tolerance and prevent their muscles from getting deconditioned.

Furthermore, Norman Edelman, MD, scientific consultant for the American Lung Association, shared in a news release that incorporating psychological counseling and family engagement in COPD care is also essential.