COPD can make you feel tired all the time and still make it difficult to sleep. It can be exhausting to eat, and the medications can take all the taste out of your food. You may be self-conscious about your oxygen or a chronic cough and become more reluctant to go out in public. You may have been active for all of your life and now can't do the things you once enjoyed. All of these challenges can put you at risk for developing depression.
Why Getting Help is Important
Depression is a miserable experience that leaves us feeling disconnected from our lives and often without hope that anything will ever feel better again. When depression is left untreated, it drains both your brain and your body. You not only feel bad, but you also have less energy to do the things you want to do, including taking care of yourself and managing your COPD. It can also make you feel hopeless - as if things will never get any better - and then you might not want to bother following your treatment plan.
The Ease of Easing Depression
You may say, "Well, look at all I've lost, shouldn't I be depressed?" The answer could be both yes and no. You certainly may have lost a great deal, and it is completely understandable that you may be feeling depressed. However, that doesn't mean that you have to live with that feeling. Depression is a very common problem that can be treated. Your doctor not only knows about depression but has successfully treated many other patients. All you need to do is talk to him or her, and you'll get help.
Treatment can include medication, individual psychotherapy, or family therapy. Individual psychotherapy can provide support and encouragement as well as teach you how to set new goals and develop new coping strategies. Family therapy can provide education to family members about the illness and help the family to adjust well. Usually a combination of treatments is most effective.
Signs of Depression
Should you talk to your doctor about being depressed? If you feel or identify with five or more items on this list, talk to your doctor about the possibility of depression:
- Feeling sad more days than not for several weeks in a row
- Sleep disrupted with early waking, restless quality, or difficulty falling asleep
- Sleeping either much more or much less than usual
- Decreased interest in favorite people or activities
- Decreased energy and motivation
- Difficulty concentrating and problem solving
- Altered appetite, either up or down
- Low self-esteem or feeling worthless
- Feeling hopeless - that you'll never feel better no matter what happens
- Crying much more easily and more frequently than is usual
- Feeling irritable with everyone and everything in your life
- Being much more sensitive to criticism than is usual
- Feeling excessively guilty
- Thinking about suicide or wishing your life would end
- Inability to laugh or enjoy yourself.