Scientists recently discovered that lung disease patients who also have depression or anxiety are 83% more likely to die.
Researchers from the University of Western Sydney examined studies of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to see how depression and anxiety affected prognosis. COPD is the name for a collection of lung diseases which make it difficult for the patient to breathe.
Senior Research Fellow Dr Evan Atlantis, who led the study, said: “It’s clear from the studies we reviewed that depression and anxiety adversely affect prognosis for COPD patients and COPD patients have a greater likelihood of having depression or anxiety compared to the general population.”
Around 40% of COPD patients were found to have clinical depression, compared to 10% of the general population.
People with COPD usually undergo pulmonary rehabilitation to improve their wellbeing. This is a series of programmes focusing on nutrition counselling, exercise training, education, energy conserving techniques, breathing techniques and psychological counselling.
Scientists believe depression and anxiety may impact the effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation, preventing them from coping well in everyday life. The authors of this study urge healthcare professionals to undertake a mental health screening at the same time as screening for lung diseases.
Dr Atlantis believes this will become an increasing problem over the years as the population ages because COPD is linked to ageing as well as smoking. He says this will place additional stress on healthcare systems around the world and threaten economic growth in developing countries.
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