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Chronic Cough Can Be Depressing

Treating Chronic Cough May Help Lift Depression, Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 11, 2006 -- Chronic cough is often accompanied by depression, and when chronic cough eases, people may feel better.

So say doctors at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center.

They studied 100 patients with chronic cough -- defined as cough lasting for more than eight weeks -- who were treated at the Montefiore Cough Center.

When the patients first came to the clinic, they completed a 20-item depression questionnaire. Their answers showed that more than half of the patients -- 53% -- had depression symptoms that scored high enough to be at risk for clinical depression.

After three months of treatment for chronic cough, 81 of the patients repeated the questionnaire. They reported coughing less and scored lower on a measure of depression symptoms.

The study by Peter Dicpinigaitis, MD, FCCP, and colleagues appears in Chest.

Why is chronic cough often depressing? The researchers suggest several possibilities:

  • Worse overall health. Chronic cough can disrupt sleep and prompt nausea, vomiting, and urinary incontinence.

  • Social isolation. Chronic coughers may fear they'll cough severely in public places.

  • Strained relationships. Chronic cough can hamper relationships with spouses, relatives, and co-workers.

In light of the findings, doctors should be aware that people with chronic cough may need help for depression, write Dicpinigaitis and colleagues.

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