To diagnose asthma, your doctor will review your asthma symptoms, your medical and family history, and may perform lung function tests (also called pulmonary function tests). Your doctor will be interested in any breathing problems you might have had, as well as a family history of asthma or other lung conditions, allergies, or a skin disease called eczema. It is important that you describe your symptoms of asthma in detail (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness), including when...
Depression, with its feelings of sadness and helplessness, is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder. In the U.S., depression is widespread among men (12.7%) and women (21.3%).
Many people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes suffer with depression. Yet with poorly managed asthma, the inability to breathe is stressful. This emotional stress can add to depressive feelings and can worsen asthma symptoms.
Understanding the Link Between Asthma and Depression
University of Wisconsin brain imaging and behavior researcher Melissa A. Rosenkranz, PhD, explains that the exact causes of depression in asthma are unknown, but inflammation may hold answers.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease. Rosenkranz tells WebMD that when the presence of inflammation in the body is communicated to the brain, neural (brain) changes take place.
The neural changes can modify behaviors that resemble those seen in depression, says Rosenkranz. Symptoms may include depressed mood, lethargy, decreased appetite, and decreased interest in social interaction.
Rosenkranz’s study, published in the journal Neuroimage, analyzes clues that may link depression and asthma. Her findings show that as depressive symptoms improve, so does the asthma. In fact, a reduction in depressive symptoms is linked to a decreased use of asthma medications.
Poorly managed asthma keeps people from being active. When inactivity combines with difficulty breathing, it triggers a downward spiral that includes: