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Anxiety and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD)

Posted Apr 28 2009 1:36pm

national_jewish_logo Deep in our brain is a region that constantly samples our blood to be sure that we are breathing well, and that we are breathing clean, “healthy” air. If it detects anything wrong with our breathing or the air around us, it can send out an alarm signal that something is wrong. This might feel like as sudden rush of anxiety, or even panic. This feeling is supposed to prod us to get up and get away from whatever dangerous situation has caused our breathing to set off our “suffocation alarm.”

Increased Anxiety with COPD

With COPD, you regularly have trouble breathing and your suffocation alarm can become “hyperactive.” You might feel anxious and edgy. Even little changes, like strong odors or being hurried, can fire off a full suffocation alarm signal. This is the reason that patients with COPD frequently complain of increased episodes of panic and anxiety. This response is common and does not mean that there is something wrong with you mentally or emotionally.

Reducing Anxiety

With help from your doctor, there are a number of things you can do to “reset” your suffocation alarm and your feelings of anxiety. These may include:

Breathing Retraining

> Signs of Too Much Worry

> Signs of Too Little Worry

> An “Ideal” Level of Worry

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