A recent study by University of Amsterdam researchers sought to investigate whether depression occurs more often in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) than in those without.
The study focused on patients diagnosed with COPD who were age 40 and over and had a history of smoking. The study, which appeared in Thorax, assessed depression levels using the Centers for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale. This is a screening test developed to detect levels of depressive disorder and measure the symptoms associated.
The results were conclusive in determining that patients with mild to moderate COPD did not have an increased risk of depression, while patients with severe COPD were found to have a 2.5 times greater risk of developing depression than those in the control group. It should be noted that patients at any stage of COPD who lived alone were found to have respiratory symptoms and physical impairment associated with significantly higher scores on the CES-D scale. Thus, living alone may increase the likelihood of developing depression at any stage of COPD.
Researchers note that “the results of this study underscore the importance of reducing symptoms and improving physical functioning in patients with COPD.”
The study has been the most conclusive in its results thus far in studying the occurrence of depression due to the large number of patients and control groups used. Its findings help clear the way for more selective and specified treatments and lifestyle changes for those living with COPD and bring attention to the idea that depression should be considered a disorder in COPD patients.