Updated 17 September 2015

Psychological aspects of living with COPD

How you deal with COPD on a mental level will have an impact on your physical health.


Being diagnosed with COPD is stressful. How you deal with it on a mental level will have an impact on your physical health.

Talk about it. Discuss your feelings and observations with someone – either a family member or a professional. Talking about feelings always validates them and puts them into perspective.

Get support. Join a support group. These are invaluable, not only for the social support they give, but also for the exchange of tips and ideas on making your life easier. Sometimes it is simply easier to talk to people who know what you are going through.

Get social. Regular social activities help fight depression. Go walking with a friend, go to the cinema, join a bridge club, play bowls or golf. It is worth your while making the effort.

Do the right thing. Eat properly, get some exercise and take your medication correctly. Doing these things will help you to think positively and will also reduce your stress levels.

Watch out for depression. It is easy when you suffer from COPD to get lonely and isolated and depressed. You need to make an effort with other people and watch out for classic symptoms of depression, which include a general feeling of being down, a change in eating and sleeping patterns and social withdrawal.

Listen to your body. It is important that you do not push yourself too hard – both physically and emotionally. If you are trying to do too much, your body will tell you. Take things calmly and one day at a time.

Learn relaxation techniques. Relaxation is a form of control that enables you to gain control over stress and your body's response to it. Relaxation takes time and you will need some practise in your chosen technique.

Ask for help. Ask others to assist you with the things that give you any difficulties. It is an empowering thing to learn to ask for help, even though it may be difficult in the beginning.

Plan in advance. By doing advance planning, you will cut a lot of stress out of your life. Think carefully about getting ready to get out, all the things you need to do and things you need to take with you.

- (Susan Erasmus, Health24)


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