If you’re living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), shortness of breath and wheezing may be common obstacles. Difficulties breathing properly can make you feel anxious, and this emotional state can begin to interfere with your daily life. When this happens, it's important to seek behavioral health services and take steps to relieve your stress. The following guide explains why COPD-related anxiety happens and how to reduce the symptoms.
Why Is Anxiety Common in Individuals With COPD?
Anxiety is a natural response to stressful stimuli, leading to feelings of nervousness or even fear. It can stem from a variety of factors, such as an accident, worries over a chronic disease, the loss of a loved one, or anticipation over public speaking.
Feeling anxious occasionally is normal, but frequent symptoms that appear without major external stressors often signify an anxiety disorder. You might feel restless, excessively worried, and constantly on edge for no discernible reason.
Since COPD causes your breathing to become shallow and your chest to tighten, your brain may perceive these as reactions to stressful stimuli. As the symptoms worsen, your anxiety might start to rise, increasing your heart rate and making it harder to catch your breath. The similarities between COPD and anxiety symptoms can create a cycle of fear that affects your ability to function normally.
What Are Some Strategies to Manage Anxiety?
While there is currently no cure for anxiety, there are steps you can take to cope. Exercise is important for managing COPD, and it can also help reduce anxiety symptoms. Stay active, but go slow and pay attention to your body to prevent breathing difficulties. Walking, yoga, biking, swimming, and weightlifting are all excellent workouts.
Learn to recognize what triggers your anxiety. For individuals with COPD, shortness of breath is a common trigger. When you know an anxiety attack is coming, you can better prepare yourself and implement strategies to calm down.
Practicing mindfulness, where you are fully aware of your presence, thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and surroundings, can keep you grounded. Deep breathing is another calming technique. Breathe in slowly through your nose and back out through your mouth, thinking positive, peaceful thoughts. Engage in activities that keep your mind off of your anxiety, such as playing casual mobile games, watching nature documentaries, or going through old photo albums.
Behavioral health services can teach you additional strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety. If you are having trouble finding effective ways to cope, talk to your primary care physician.
If you need help managing symptoms of COPD and anxiety, turn to the experts at Affinity Health Group of Monroe, LA. Since 2007, this health group has provided a wide range of medical services for patients of all ages, addressing their physical and mental well-being. Learn more about their behavioral health services online and call (318) 807-4900 to schedule an appointment.