The emotional effects of COPD can be unbearable for people who don’t have a good support system. Before seeking treatment it is a good idea to learn to recognize signs and symptoms of emotional overload. The following are a few things you should look for if you feel that your emotions are getting the best of you:
Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain so it is different than sadness. People with lung disease, who also suffer from depression or anxiety, are at a higher risk for COPD exacerbation. If you have any of the below symptoms, seek medical attentions as soon as possible:
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Change in sleep patterns
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Loss of pleasure or interest in things
- Social isolation
- Feelings of worthlessness
Sometimes physical symptoms are accompanied by anxiety disorders. The most common are an increased heart rate and sweating. However, there can also be some not-so-typical symptoms of anxiety which include:
- Muscle tension, often found in the neck, shoulders, back and jaw muscles
- Problems with digestion including constipation or diarrhea
- Changes in sleep patterns, which can mean an inability to sleep, difficulty falling asleep or early awakenings
- Panic attacks are different from generalized anxiety and include a sudden onset of a racing heart, numbness and unusual physical sensations.
If you experience any of these symptoms consult your doctor.
Everybody has certain fears that can cause thoughts of dread and worry. Fear is our most basic human emotions. Having a fear or two is normal but when your fears begin to cause extreme anxiety and they interfere with daily life, it is time to take some action. If you feel that fear is taking over your life, a mental health professional may help you see things more clearly. You can also try joining a support group. Talking to others can help distill some of your fears and make life much more enjoyable.
Remorse is defined as a sense of regret for past wrong-doings. Many people with lung disease say they have feelings of intense remorse for their disease. What’s even worse, because COPD is most often caused by smoking, other people can make insensitive remarks which only add fuel to the fire.
If you want peace and comfort forgive yourself. Even the best of us make mistakes. Living life with regret is a waste of energy that you could be putting into something more constructive, like developing healthy habits and taking better care of yourself. There is life after lung disease, and it is time that you started to live it.