It’s not surprising that shortness of breath, a common symptom of COPD, can induce panic. Anxiety is a regular issue for people who live with this disease. Some estimates show that more than one third of patients with COPD experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“One of the most basic elements our bodies need to survive is oxygen, which we obtain through breath. COPD impacts one’s ability to breathe deeply, and this alone can result in anxiety, not to mention the psychological stress that can arise from living with chronic illness,” Caryn Blanton, MSW, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker at Rush University Medical Center, says in a statement. “Recognizing these symptoms and learning how to manage them, can greatly increase one’s quality of life.”

By improving the mental health of these pulmonary patients, clinicians can expect to see fewer exacerbations and less frequent hospitalizations.So when pulmonary disease leads to mental health issues in patients, it’s important for caregivers to remember that simple gestures can do a lot to help improve overall clinical outcomes.

When a patient doesn’t have an an adequate support network, caregivers can fill in the gap by being present with their patient, listening to their feelings, and encouraging them to continue to participate in activities that they enjoy. In some cases, caregivers can suggest physical modifications to make hobbies more accessible.

Even those clinicians without mental health training can make a significant impact on their patients’ mental health.


  1. Wolfson, H. (2019, July 1). 4 Ways to Provide Mental Health Support for Pulmonary Patients. Retrieved from