To shine a light on the link between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and depression, the Lung Institute is starting an initiative to help combat depression in COPD patients. It kicked off on World Health Day, April 7.
The initiative will seek to decrease the prevalence of depression in people with COPD by helping them improve their quality of life.
Depression affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide, including 16 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s particularly prevalent in COPD. About 40 percent of the 24 million Americans with the disease experience depression, according to the Lung Institute.
An article titled “Depression in COPD – management and quality of life considerations” spells out the problem. It was published in The International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
“Many of our COPD patients suffer from depression. It is what is known in medicine as a co-morbidity,” Jack Coleman, Jr., MD, senior medical director of the Lung Institute, said in a press release.
“When you suffer with COPD, life’s smallest activities like bathing and walking can be a daily struggle; leaving the house can be overwhelming, which may lead to isolated living conditions. You can become cut off from the things you enjoy and, too often, the ones you love.”
Depression can significantly worsen the physical burden of COPD. That makes it important for doctors and their patients to create a plan to deal with it.
The Lung Institute says COPD and depression don’t need to co-exist. Managing the depression that does exist can improve patients’ outlook, it adds.
The institute offers regenerative cell therapy to those with lung disease. This involves using a person’s stem cells, which can generate other cells types, to regenerate lung tissue. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life of COPD patients.
After treatment, many patients are ready to engage in the simple tasks they used to do, and pursue activities they once thought impossible, the institute says.
“I could barely leave the house and I couldn’t move. It was hard to get [up] out of a chair. I went into a depression of losing my life, the life I had and the life I loved,” said a patient at the Lung Institute, David V. “But [having] the stem cell [treatment] freed me up to be able to move again. That was the move that saved my life.”
Stem cell therapy involves using new adult stem cells to treat diseased or injured tissues. Although it helps patients, it is not a cure.
But a previous pilot report of the Lung Institute showed that 82 percent of patients saw improvements in their quality of life after stem cell therapy. And increasing a patient’s quality of life should help decrease their risk of depression, the institute says.