Coping with COPD

You may have felt stunned when you first learned of your diagnosis. What you heard may have seemed pretty mysterious, or even frightening. Or maybe you felt relieved to finally know what was going on.

Some people respond to a COPD diagnosis by diving right in, and learning everything they can. They feel like they are taking charge and gaining some control over their condition. Others prefer to learn about COPD more slowly, taking time to let the information sink in and think of questions. You may be coping with your COPD diagnosis in yet a different way.

Whatever the case, you may experience many different emotions with COPD. Panic, anxiety and depression are common. No doubt about it - it’s frightening to lose your breath, and it’s difficult when you’re not able to do what you once did.

Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed if you have these feelings. There are 24 million Americans who have COPD! You are not alone! There is help! You can become informed and empowered so you can have the confidence to control your breathing and cope with the change and loss that often comes with having COPD. Here are some ways:

  • Tell your health care professional if you’re feeling depressed or anxious.
  • Learn about COPD. Understanding what’s happening in your lungs and learning proper breathing techniques can help you control your breathing instead of letting it control you. Ask your health care professional about referring you to a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
  • Talk with others. In pulmonary rehabilitation or a COPD support group you will learn from experts, as well as share ideas and find encouragement from others who have the same concerns.
  • Stay active! You may not be able to do some of the things you used to do, but it shouldn’t stop you from doing everything! By staying active and exercising, you’ll improve your overall fitness, strength, flexibility, and state of mind.

Resources and Support

The COPD Foundation offers resources such as COPD360social, an online community where you can connect with patients, caregivers and healthcare providers and ask questions, share your experiences and receive and provide support. We also offer free, downloadable educational materials available through our downloads library.

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