Lessons from Cecil

COPD, Anxiety and Depression
In this segment we will discuss the dangers and pitfalls of anxiety and/or depression with our illness and how to properly deal with them.

 The first and most important thing is to be able to realize that you do have anxiety or depression. This can be done by self-evaluation if you know what to look for as symptoms:

The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the brain sending messages to parts of the body to prepare for the "fight or flight" response. The heart, lungs and other parts of the body work faster. The brain also releases stress hormones, including adrenaline.

The following symptoms can occur as a result:abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat or palpitations, tightness or pain in chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, frequent urination, difficulty swallowing.

Psychological symptoms can include:insomnia, irritability or anger, inability to concentrate, fear of madness, feeling unreal and not in control of your actions (depersonalization)

Symptoms of depression:

You feel miserable and sad. You feel exhausted a lot of the time with no energy. You feel as if even the smallest tasks are sometimes impossible. You seldom enjoy the things that you used to enjoy- you may be off sex or food or may 'comfort eat' to excess. You feel very anxious sometimes. You don't want to see people or are scared to be left alone. Social activity may feel hard or impossible. You find it difficult to think clearly.

You feel like a failure and/or feel guilty a lot of the time. You feel a burden to others. You sometimes feel that life isn't worth living. You can see no future. There is a loss of hope. You feel all you've ever done is make mistakes and that's all that you ever will do.

You feel irritable or angry more than usual. You feel you have no confidence. You spend a lot of time thinking about what has gone wrong, what will go wrong or what is wrong about yourself as a person. You may also feel guilty sometimes about being critical of others (or even thinking critically about them). You feel that life is unfair. You have difficulty sleeping or wake up very early in the morning and can't sleep again. You seem to dream all night long and sometimes have disturbing dreams. You feel that life is/has passed you by. You may have physical aches and pains which appear to have no physical cause, such as back pain.

It's this wealth of depression symptoms, and the broad scope that confuses many people as to what depression actually is. Explanations rarely cover all the symptoms, and everybody's experience is different.

If you find you have any or part of these symptoms you should contact your doctor and seek help. In some cases the primary care physician can prescribe medication. If it is advanced then it may require seeing a therapist or psychiatrist for treatment.

Anxiety can be very detrimental to your health.These type attacks can sometimes be controlled with PLB (Pursed Lip Breathing). With this method you inhale and count to four at the same time. Then you exhale and count to eight. This can lower anxiety levels as well as lower heart rate and increase oxygen saturation in your blood stream.

It also extremely important to accept the diagnosis and take the treatment religiously. A few people associate these illnesses with a stigma that if a person has these problems they are "crazy" and some are ashamed to admit it. It is important to realize that these are "in fact" illnesses and can be controlled with therapy or medication. They have no bearing on your mental stability. It is a fact that if you can't think straight then you can't control the physical side of this illness which is basically how we improve the quality and quantity of our lives.

One of the largest factors contributing to anxiety and depression is the change in lifestyle and the inability of most people to understand and accept this illness. Also the lack of understanding that this is a "chronic illness" and not a terminal one. The difference being terminal is a disease that has no known cure but is rapidly progressive. Chronic is a disease that is incurable but can be controlled and the progression slowed to the point of natural deterioration from aging.

 It is not a death sentence but a change in lifestyle. When you can accomplish this then you can control the anxiety and depression.

SUMMARY:It is important to educate yourself on this illness and accept it as what it is - a change in lifestyle and not a death sentence. Also when it comes to anxiety and/or depression we are pretty much left on our own to diagnose and question. Most medical physicians don't relate well with mental abnormalities unlessthey get advanced to the point where they affect the patient physically. By this time there has been unnecessary suffering. Be pro-active in this area and don't fall into the stigma of a mental illness as a "crazed lunatic." It is simply what it is, a treatable illness. Life will be much easier and you can enjoy the years remaining instead of dreading every morning that you wake up.

Cecil from Arkansas