Managing Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and COPD

by on July 10, 2014

COPD and Anxiety

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an illness of the lungs that causes difficulty breathing. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine site, the two types of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Having COPD can be difficult and exhausting; any activities that require physical exertion become more difficult, making even some routine tasks a challenge.

People who have COPD sometimes experience issues related to anxiety and panic. Anxiety is a common complaint for people with chronic illness, and panic attacks (in which a person experiences bouts of extreme anxiety and physical discomfort) can be a recurring problem for people with COPD.

An article called “Prevention of panic attacks and panic disorder in COPD” by Livermore, Sharpe and McKenzie explores the treatments for people with COPD and anxiety.

The researchers examined the effects of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) on COPD patients. The National Alliance on Mental Illness describes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as “the therapist and the patient […] actively work[ing] together to help the patient recover from […] mental illness.” The therapist essentially teaches the person struggling with a mental health issue to use healthy strategies to cope with the condition or to overcome it.

Of forty-one participants in the study with COPD, twenty-one were assigned to receive CBT. The remaining participants received “routine care” unaccompanied by any form of therapy.

A year and a half after the patients were treated, the researchers observed that 60% of the participants who did not receive Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy “experienced at least one panic attack in the previous 6 months […] while no CBT group participants experienced any panic attacks during the follow-up phase.” The researchers also found that “there were […] significant reductions in anxiety symptoms and catastrophic cognitions” in the group of participants who had received the CBT as part of the study.

The results of the study indicate that treating people who have COPD with CBT can help prevent panic and anxiety symptoms. These findings may be able to help health professionals to consider how they approach the treatment for patients with COPD. By receiving some therapy early on — especially CBT, which is one of the more effective treatments –, COPD sufferers may be better equipped to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety.

If you would like to know more about COPD and anxiety, you may want to visit the WebMD site to read some “Tips for COPD Breathlessness” and other related articles.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

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