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A Comprehensive Guide to COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) afflicts 16 million Americans, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the United States today, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). To put this in perspective, this is more than the entire population of Alabama, Connecticut, and Indiana combined.

Though this number is already a concern, the NHLBI goes on to say that it is actually probably much higher, because it’s suspected that millions of people are walking around daily with this particular health condition without even realizing they have it. That’s why COPD has been elevated to the status of being a major health issue that, consequently, has doubled since 1969.

The Psychological Impact of COPD

While COPD is a physical disease affecting the lungs, research has discovered that this particular condition can affect a person psychologically as well.

One study found that individuals with this disease have higher rates of depression and anxiety than those who don’t have this lung-based disease. It even suggests that these rates are higher for those with COPD than for individuals with some other type of chronic disease.

This research also found that female COPD patients tend to be affected the most psychologically. Additionally, if the disease has a higher severity, than the risk of anxiety and depression is higher, too.

Other potential risk factors identified in this study include living alone, being hospitalized with a flare-up, and impaired physical function. All of these can increase the likelihood that someone with COPD can become more depressed or anxious.

So, what causes COPD?