Coping with COPD
Learn to understand and manage common emotions.
Living with COPD can be a challenge — especially as it becomes harder to catch your breath. You may have to give up some activities you previously enjoyed. Your family and friends might have a hard time adjusting to some of the changes. This can be challenging emotionally, too.
It may help to be aware of your changing moods and to share your fears and feelings with your family, friends, health care team, and others who have COPD.
Be aware of your changing moods
Take note of any changes in your moods and how your relationships may change. A loss of energy can lead to a loss of interest and involvement. That may lead to a cycle of frustration, withdrawal from others and depression.
- Maintain connections. The first steps to breaking a negative emotional cycle are to notice and talk about it. Share your feelings and concerns about COPD with your family and friends. A strong support system is important and can help you cope.
Recognize anxiety or depression. Living with COPD can lead to anxiety and depression. If feelings of worry, fear or sadness don't go away after a few weeks or get in the way of your ability to enjoy life, be sure to tell your doctor.
Professional counseling, medications or other treatments may help you. And managing anxiety and depression may also help you better manage your COPD.
Educate your family and friends
If you don't often have attacks of breathlessness or fits of coughing, you may not look ill. So people may not understand why you no longer do some activities or why you seem less engaged. They may think that you just aren't interested in them anymore. If you tell other people about your COPD, they may better accept the fact that your activity level may change.
However, try not to make too many lifestyle changes at once. A big change in your lifestyle may lead to a cycle of frustration, depression and withdrawal from others.
Consider a support group
You may find it helpful to connect with a COPD support group, where you and others with COPD can share symptoms, challenges and coping tips. An online support group might be available at any time of day. Support groups that meet in person can be a good excuse to leave the house.
March 01, 2019
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- COPD and emotional health. American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/living-with-copd/coping-with-emotions.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- COPD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.