EFFORTS Members’ Questions About Depression
Dr. Maria Buckley, Staff Psychologist
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program
The Miriam Hospital
Lifespan Physician Group
AACVPR Professional Liaison Committee
Q.) What are the treatments available to reduce depression in COPD patients?
A.) This is an important question as depression is common in COPD patients. Little
research has been done specifically evaluating the treatment of depression in COPD
patients. We do know that in general, cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise and
antidepressant medications have been shown to effectively reduce depression.
Q.) Is it important for doctors to screen COPD patients for depression?
A.) Yes! Many times depression goes undiagnosed and patients suffer with this disorder
without receiving treatment. Did you know that depressed patients are three times
less likely to take their medications as prescribed?
Q.) Is pulmonary rehabilitation one way to treat depression?
A.) Pulmonary rehabilitation may be sufficient to reduce depressive symptoms; however,
this may not always be the case. In fact, depressed patients who enter rehab tend
to drop out. Thus, it is key that depression is evaluated and treated by a qualified
professional upon entry to pulmonary rehabilitation.
Q.) Are there support groups for people with COPD in addition to EFFORTS?
A.) Yes! The American Lung Association sponsors the Better Breathers Clubs across
the country. They also provide the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA to answer questions
about lung health. The ALA also publishes an e-newsletter and offers a State of
the Air App. regarding air quality in various regions.
Q.) Can medications for depression interact with respiratory prescriptions?
A.) Good question. Many people are taking multiple medications which may interact.
It is important to consult with your physician around this issue.
Q.) Do all COPD patients who take supplemental oxygen become depressed?
A.) This may surprise some of you, but NO, many people who use oxygen DO NOT become
depressed. Many people learn to adapt to challenges to live the best quality of
life possible with the oxygen.
Q.) How about anxiety? Do COPD patients who use supplemental oxygen become very
anxious about this adjustment?
A.) Some people become anxious about wearing their oxygen, but many become more
comfortable when they realize that the oxygen allows them to do more and to focus
on their goals and what matters in their lives; not others’ judgments. In fact,
some people use the oxygen to be good role models for other patients.