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COPD Patients at Higher Risk for Depression

Time and again, research points to a definite link between an individual’s mental well-being and their physical well-being. According to a Reuters Health piece, those patients who struggle with the chronic breathing disorder COPD appear to be at significantly higher risk for becoming clinically depressed than healthy individuals.

“The relationship between depression and COPD was described before, but what this study adds is that we found a temporal relationship. In other words, COPD did lead to a higher risk for a diagnosis of depression,” said Lisette van den Bemt in the Reuters piece.

Lisette van den Bemt is from Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, The Netherlands and noted that the increased risk of depression is not the result of having a chronic disease in general, but is specific for COPD.

A progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and other symptoms.

In van den Bemt’s study, the researchers found that the risk of a first diagnosis of depression was significantly higher in the COPD patients than in the control patients. This is important for healthcare providers as treatment options for depression can enhance dyspnea, one of the key symptoms of COPD.

Co-existing illnesses were also examined in this research and was found to be existent in 85 percent of patients with COPD. While having another illness in addition to the COPD was significantly common, it did not result in higher risk for depression in patients with COPD as compared to healthy control subjects and those with diabetes.

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