Watch Depression in COPD Because It = More Hospitalizations
It's understandable that most people who suffer with COPD also suffer with anxiety and depression. After all, the disease is tough to bear, requires sometimes costly meds (longterm) and can remain chronic and debilitating for years. A new study shows that this anxiety or depression, if allowed to fester without treatment, can actually put the patient at risk for more exacerbations and more hospitalizations.
The study looked at 500 patients with stable COPD who were assessed for depression and/or anxiety at the baseline. They were followed for a year (some patients did drop out) and the researchers looked at how many exacerbations they had in relation to depression and anxiety levels. Depressed patients had a higher degree of concurrent anxiety than the non-depressed patients. These depressed/anxious patients had higher mortality, more symptom and event -based exacerbations and hospitalizations. Hospital stays were nearly two and a half times as long for depressed patients. Anxiety also contributed to more and longer hospital stays.
Researchers postulated that depression may impact the course of the disease because:
- It may affect immune system function
- It may affect adaptability to the disease
- It may make them lose self-confidence/increase hopelessness
- It may cause poor self care
The bottom line? Doctors who care for patients with COPD need to stay on top of depression and signs of anxiety and treat these conditions and keep tight watch on the stability of care of all components of COPD.