If you have asthma, you probably keep at least one inhaler with you at all times. These portable gizmos let you breathe in bursts of medication. A control inhaler is used on a regular basis to prevent the inflammation that blocks your airways. A rescue inhaler can deliver treatments for the sudden onset of symptoms like:
Shortness of breath
Tightness in the chest
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: