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Coping with Stress and Emotions from Pulmonary Fibrosis

A diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis brings up many thoughts, feelings and emotions. The side effects of PF, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, can also impact your mood. It is common for people with pulmonary fibrosis to experience depression and anxiety or just feel general stress. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help you feel better.

What Helps?

  • Just because depression and anxiety are common, doesn't mean you shouldn't tell your doctor about it. Be open with your doctor about how you are feeling so they can help.
  • Connect with others in your shoes. Join an online support community in an in-person support group like a Better Breathers Club.
  • Exercise can help improve your mood and reduce stress. Pulmonary rehabilitation is great because it offers an exercise program and the support of others.
  • Managing your side effects will help you feel better physically and mentally. Ask to see a palliative care professional who can help you maintain a good quality of life.
  • Try to see friends, leave the house regularly and participate in your hobbies. Using oxygen therapy can help you continue to do what makes you happy with less shortness of breath.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation and breathing exercises.
  • Call the Lung HelpLine to talk one-on-one with a medical professional who can offer tips and connect you to resources.
  • Listen to your body. Push yourself to be as active as you can but also rest when your body needs it.
  • Ask for help with chores. Set up a caregiving calendar to let people know what you need.
  • There are medications available that can help with depression and anxiety. Talk to your doctor to find out if medication is right for you.
  • Talk to a counselor or therapist. Your doctor can recommend a healthcare professional who can help you work through your emotions.

Talk to Your Doctor

Depression and anxiety can be very serious. Some people experience feelings or thoughts they have never felt before. If you experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, talk to your doctor right away. Some symptoms are:

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Hopelessness
  • Ongoing feelings of sadness and/or worry
  • Feeling restless
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Changes in your appetite

Page last updated: March 22, 2020

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