Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a physical condition which impairs breathing. People who have COPD have twice the risk of developing anxiety or depression when compared to individuals without COPD. Mood issues can have a strong effect on COPD and can result in poorer outcomes. Therefore, interventions designed to improve mood can help increase the quality of life and overall health of people living with COPD. A common method of treatment for COPD/mood issues is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, the rumination associated with mood issues in people with COPD is often focused on real, physical impairments, which makes cognitive transformation more difficult.
Alternate approaches, such as exercise and lifestyle change programs, have been implemented, but the effect of these types of treatments is unclear. Peter A. Coventry of the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom sought to determine whether lifestyle/psychological interventions were more successful at diminishing symptoms of anxiety and depression than other forms of treatment. He analyzed data from over 2,000 participants involved in existing studies and found that even though lifestyle interventions and psychological interventions each had minimal effects on their own, multi-faceted interventions that integrated exercise, psychological, and lifestyle elements were the only approaches that dramatically reduced both anxiety and depression.
Other treatment approaches that were analyzed in this study included relaxation strategies, CBT and self-management, but they were found to only minimally reduce symptoms in the participants. Coventry believes that people with COPD can benefit greatly by engaging in regular, short periods of moderate exercise. For individuals who are required to take several medications for these conditions, exercise provides an alternative to antidepressants and other medications and targets negative mood states that accompany anxiety and depression. But, Coventry notes that the exact mechanism that causes this positive effect has yet to be fully explained. He added, “In conclusion, exercise training can have adventitiously positive effects on psychological health in all COPD patients, even among those with sub-threshold levels of depression and anxiety.”
Coventry PA, Bower P, Keyworth C, Kenning C, Knopp J, et al. (2013). The effect of complex interventions on depression and anxiety in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60532. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060532
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.