Depression and asthma

I don't know if any of you will be able to give me any advice on this but I was wondering if depression can make asthma worse? I'm having a bit of a rough time at the mo with my personal life and my asthma seems to be much worse than normal at the mo. I would ask a doc but I'm not a huge fan of seeing them because all they seem to offer you these days is happy pills and I really don't want them. Just wondered if its because of the way I'm feeling at the mo with the stress or if its some underlying problem that I'm just dismissing at the mo?

Any advice would be great

Thank you in advance


17 Replies

  • Danni,

    I would look at some sort of counselling, and also relaxation type things to help you if you are not too keen on talking to the doctor at the moment. Make sure you are getting enough time for yourself and enough support from people if you want to talk about things. Do relaxing things, that might help your asthma too like having a bath or doing something gentle like yoga etc. Don't write doctors off some of them don't fob you off with pills anymore they might be able to refer you to the practice counsellor or have some ideas of practical support you could get.

    From personal experience I can say that my athma does get worse if I'm stressed. I get worked up and if my asthma is sensitive anyway it seems to get more aggravated. I also find that I have depression as a side effect of taking pred. Everytime I take pred I get suicidal thoughts and thoughts about self harm (I've never acted on any of these). As I'm not on pred all the time I know its just a side effect. I mentioned it to my doctor and my asthma nurse. After a tricky time over the past few months I have been taking some antidepressants and so far they have worked for me. I've been on a course of pred for five days so far and I've only had a couple of low points but nothing like I was having.


  • Thanx for that Bex I'm not one for talking to people about my personal problems but I'll definately try and do things that I find relaxing. I've never felt like this before and I'm finding it quite hard to deal with especially as its making my chest bad. I keep having episodes where I get really tight chested and short of breath and know its only a matter of time before I have a full blown attack which I find quite scary. I've only ever had 2 in the 14yrs I've been asthmatic and they were both last yr. Guess I need to try and stay as relaxed as possible!!!

    Thanx again


  • hi,

    my asthma comes on when im stressed too, i get panic attacks aswell, so when im having a panic attack it often goes in to an asthma attack. so i breathing in thro a paper bag then a few mins later im having to take inhaler.

    Hope u feel better soon


  • I always said that my emotions never affected my breathing. I was at college in 2yrs ago doing a 5 day a week course, split into 3 different parts, I was at college morning till evening 5 days a week on 24hr oxygen. I did everything from IVs to physio at college then the regular hospital admissions made it impossible to keep up and I was stressed. In the end I was told to leave by my dr and I actually noticed a slight improvement in my symptoms.

    Tks xxx

  • Depression or stress definately has a negative impact on your health. A lot of people find that increasing their levels of exercise really helps - but this is difficult for asthmatics. My personal recommendation for you would to be to join a local yoga, tai chi or mediation class. Something like that can help in so many ways - it gets your out of the house, gets you active, making friends - and it is far far far more relaxing and rewarding than sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself :)

  • It's probably worth going to see a counsellor as it can help to have someone to sound off at. Also, as xephos said, relaxation classes such as yoga can be good, but if you decide to go to one, it may be worth checking ahead if incense is used or anything else that is likely to trigger asthma.


  • And always check with your Dr first

  • Just a quickie on this don't take St Johns Wort (herbal anti-depressant) before checking with your Dr it certainly interacts with theophyllins (slo-phylin, phyllocontin etc)


  • Thanx for all you advice on this I'll see how I go. I can't talk about my personal life with strangers as I'm quite a private person but will certainly give the relaxion things ago and maybe even yoga. I am finding exercise a boost but being asthmatic of course can restrict your activities if your having an 'off period'

    Thanks for all your messages


  • just to say do think asthma and depression are linked in some way

    asthma teaches you to stop and check - shall I do this, will it make me feel unwell?

    stop and check inhibits your spontaneity, your freedom to live from the changes flowing through your body

    asthma drains your energy, have been offered antidepressants once by a GP, when desperately trying to get some help with lack of energy, took me a while to make the connection between asthma and energy

    does depression make asthma worse? I don't know, I think asthma makes me miserable, and lonely and misunderstood, though have occasionally benefited from taking St. John's wort through winter, also find Evening Primrose, Omega 3-6-+, and Floradix helpful

    and have found a 'rant book' handy, I can poor out my blackest mood on a piece of paper, safely knowing it won't hurt anyone

    counselling has helped me leave behind some of the 'judgements' others made of me, as though I don't have to agree with my family's view of me, this has in time left me feeling I am now happy to enjoy others so much more, rather than withhold myself for fear of all the comments. challenging the family achieved nothing, joining my friends did.

    do hope your feeling better, all the best.

  • Can I just mention that St Johns Wort should not be taken with certain asthma drugs and other precription drugs too as they interact and can cause serious problems!

  • I think depression makes asthma worst, I am on antidepressiants, as well as inhalers and i fine when I feel low, my asthma gets worst.

    Love Carole x

  • I think it's a tricky cycle. When my asthma is bad I get depressed. Steroids make this depression far worse and when you are in hospital or at home feeling ill then you are bound to feel depressed. I have just come out of hospital and am quite down just now, partly because I am dissapointed to have been back in again. I know that when I get back to work that I will feel better because there will be something else to focus on. Sometimes when we are ill, we have too much time to sit and think. This is what makes me become depressed. I also think that being anxious or depressed affects my sleep. This, in turn, affects my chest and you just end up in a difficult cycle. Hope this helps a bit and that you feel better soon. It's understandable to feel depressed when you have a serious illness and have to cope with lack of independance. Dont be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

  • Is it depression or frustration? I get really really frustrated when I can't do things I want to. If I am having a bad time then frustration will reach a peak and I admit I am likely to burst into tears or shout at anyone handy, apologies to my medical team who often get in the ear when I am not getting better fast enough and my family who really feel the brunt of my frustration. I cried on my GP once who asked if I need some antidepressants as the asthma was clearly getting me down, I did not need them I need a solution, I still do.

    I am not saying that anyone here does not need antidepressants, however, I got the feeling the GP took one look at what I was going through and went for the easy option. It would have been all to easy for me to accept them and I suspect had I said yes then I would still be on them now.


    ps A degree of latent insanity anyway might help :)

  • Bex,

    I definitely agree with you about the frustration, lots of people with long term health conditions/disabilities have depression and I reckon lots of it stems from the frustrations of dealing with pain, tiredness, not being able to do things we want to do, being discriminated against etc.

    I think finding solutions and having a good support network are the best things. Knowing you have a supportive family behind you, good friends and a good medical team who you trust are really important. I also think knowing people who are going through similar things are invaluable, even if you never speak about it just knowing is enough. Its when it gets to the point when someone can't function on a day to day basis when they need to consider something more. I don't think medication is the solution it just masks the problem. Counselling, other support outside your usual networks, finding ways to relax etc. Then if all else fails then try medication.

    Lots of GP's are getting lots better at not just offering anti depressants but I think sometimes they feel at a loss of what to do for people who are in a situation that there is no easy or quick solution for and there might never be one.

    In my case medication helped as my seretonin must have been low from lots of bouts of depression which stemmed from frustration, I resisted taking anything for years and I want to get off them asap. I feel like I rattle enough as it is!


  • ""Stress linked to worsening asthma symptoms"" - AUK news, 23rd Feb 07

    "" Emotionally stressful experiences, such as the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, may lead to a worsening in people’s asthma, according to an American study.""

    Thought this may stimulate some discussion, in the light of issues discussed on this thread.


  • Hi guys,

    Perhaps reference should also be made to the thread titled 'Immunological Effects of Unemployment'.

    Take hair,


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