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The Emotional Rollercoaster of Asthma.

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Asthma

I’m just going to say it- asthma can be completely and utterly overwhelming at times. Regardless if you are newly diagnosed or an asthma pro. Asthma can have some harsh emotional effects. I know I’ve been there. Here are some of the stressors I have personally encountered and the strategies I use to help.

Keeping track of everything

As asthmatics, we have a lot to keep track of. Our medicines and when to take them, peak flow readings, how we are feeling (which could change at any given moment), our triggers and the list goes on and on. One thing that has really helped me is to keep an asthma journal.

I have a spreadsheet of sorts all printed out that has spaces for me to plot my peak flow numbers on a graph, check off when I take my medication as well as any rescue inhaler use. I write down overall how I’m feeling and any triggers I might encounter that particular day. Sometimes I will start to notice a downward trend in my peak flow numbers before I experience worsening asthma symptoms.

I also have a copy of my asthma action plan in my journal and a photo of it on my phone for quick reference. I bring my asthma journal with me to my doctor appointments to show him how I have been doing, but also I will write down any questions or things I want to talk about at my next appointment.

Starting a new medicine

Starting a new medicine can be such a source of anxiety and fear but also hope. The hope that it will work and make a significant improvement, but also the unknown of if you will have any side effects can make it quite a burden. The best thing to do is to talk with your doctor about any potential side effects and what to expect.

You can do your research online, but be aware that your doctor chose this medicine for you because he or she felt the benefit outweighs the risk. Another thing to keep in mind is that different medicines work for different people. One inhaler might work really well for me but the same might not work for you at all.

Starting with a new doctor

This one is tough. Especially if you have been with the same provider for a really long time. On the flip side, sometimes starting with a new doctor is a good thing if your previous one wasn’t a good fit. If you have copies of your medical records take them with you as well as a list of any questions or concerns that you want to address. Try to keep in close contact with your doctor to build that relationship.

Finding amazing asthma friends

Talking about your asthma journey with like-minded people can be a great source of comfort. Nowadays it is easy to find a group of fellow asthmatics online. Support groups are a great way to learn about other peoples asthma and their struggles as well as be a sounding board for your own struggles. Also, inquire as to if your area has any asthma-specific groups where you can meet fellow asthmatics who just get it. Chances are you already know at least one person who also has asthma. A friend or coworker? Reach out and offer to go grab coffee and chat. They might be struggling with the emotional aspects of asthma and need a friend. I have a few very close asthma friends and we are constantly checking in with each other.

We don’t have to be strong all of the time!

We aren’t superman. We are human and have feelings and emotions and can’t be strong every minute of every day. And you know what? That’s okay! Frustrations of not being able to breathe like a person without asthma can consume us if we let it. We cannot change our diagnosis, but we can try to make the best of it. Educating ourselves about our disease and being proactive in our own care is super important and can be empowering. Talking about our emotions is the first step.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Valerie1126
    1 year ago

    Hi Theresa. I read this a while ago and it took me a bit to reply because I have a difficult experience with this. I’m sure there are other people though who need to be careful as I now need to be.

    Along with asthma I have bipolar disorder. As I’ve written here before it’s been a rough asthma summer which included 1 intubation for asthma, 4 emergent bipaps, and 3 ED visits on top of it. The third ED visit occurred as I was finally weaning down from high dose steroids after over four months.

    In the past when I had been hospitalized for asthma my care team brought in a psychiatrist to double check me to ensure I didn’t develop steroid psychosis, a problem that someone who has psychiatric disease can encounter when on steroids. I didn’t think about it in the ED, and this was a particularly bad exacerbation that required steroids, neb treatments, IV magnesium, and IV potassium. I convinced the ED doc to let me leave and that was a mistake.

    Less than 24 hours later I developed steroid psychosis which led to an overdose I barely remember doing. I do remember being in ICU and part of my brain being normal, part being, well, out of control. This began a ten day stay which included the ICU where we had to get me medically stabilized, then the psych ward where they kept an eye on me and determined it was a steroid psychosis that I had experienced. I can’t tell you how frightening this was. As a result, if I have to be on any more than 20 mg of Prednisone I am prescribed a low dose antipsychotic to prevent this from ever occurring again.

    The moral of my story is to A. Listen to the doctor B. If your medical team wants to monitor you especially if you have another diagnosis let them monitor you. C. If there is any change in your emotions or behavior get checked out immediately. Your life is worth it!

  • WheezyMe
    1 year ago

    Hi Theresa,
    Thanks for this article!
    I had asthma since infancy, which later went into remission during adolescence (well, I thought I had outgrown it) only to come back six years ago. At my renewed diagnosis, I had a hard time coping and accepting my asthma. Fortunately, those hard feelings went away and I’m doing well now.
    I’ve been dealing, however, with an emotional roller coaster lately related to another medical issue. So I can definitely relate to your post. Just remember we are all through it together- I learned that online communities can be a great place.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi again, WheezyMe, and thanks for your post in response to Theresa’s article. We appreciate your participation in our community and value your consistent comments. It’s not always easy when asthma returns in adulthood following a seeming remission since the childhood years, in your case, infancy. It can be a challenge to cope! You mentioned that you had a ‘hard time’ but the ‘hard feelings went away’. That is fortunate (as you said). Are you able to share how you actually got past that? It might be beneficial for our members to hear. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi again, WheezyMe and thanks for your reply (below). What a great disposition and positive outlook you have and developed to be able to think and feel that way. This goes a long, long way towards managing the condition itself as I’m sure you know. Keep up the good work and we appreciate you sharing this with us so candidly!! Warmly, Leon (site moderator)

  • WheezyMe
    1 year ago

    Hi Leon!
    Well, some of it became easier with time, as I found out it wasn’t as bad as I feared.
    However, ir was not enough. At some point, I felt my feelings about asthma were worse for me than my symptoms… I am a happy person and hated the bitterness I brought with me to the doctor’s office. I was even guilty for taking it so hard. So I made a conscious decision to be happy in my new situation, with whatever I’m able to do; I needed that stage to finally accept asthma as part of me again. Humor also helped me.

  • SamuelTaylor moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi WheezyMe,

    I hope the rollercoaster with the other medical issues comes to slow down soon for you. It can be overwhelming having multiple things to stay on top of, but hang in there.

    I’m happy, that you are a part of this online community. (: It’s great to have a resource, at your fingertips, all the time. Hopefully you will find information that can help you with multiple facets of your life and share your experiences with others to help them as well. We are always here for your support.

    -Samuel, Team

  • WheezyMe
    1 year ago

    Thanks for your kind words, Samuel. Yes, thankfully, the other issue is getting much better too.

  • Shellzoo
    1 year ago

    I was shocked how much work having asthma is. Keeping track of appointments and tests, carrying inhalers with me, remembering to take inhalers, avoiding triggers, other medications, managing allergies. Roller coaster is a good way of describing it. There is quite a bit of responsibility to being an asthmatic.

  • WheezyMe
    1 year ago

    That’s true, Shellzoo. But believe me, everything you mentioned becomes easier with time- it turns into a new routine.
    Hold on.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi again, Shellzoo and thanks for your post. Based on your other posts on our website, it sounds like you are able to manage your condition quite well (despite it being a lot of work and organization)! You do seem to have a good understanding of asthma and how to take care of yourself. Keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

  • FeelingShy
    1 year ago

    Thank you for another helpful piece!

  • Theresa Cannizzaro, Respiratory Therapist moderator author
    1 year ago

    You are so welcome!! I hope you’re having a easy breathing day! ~Theresa (moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi again, FeelingShy – glad you found this material by our own Theresa Cannizzaro to be so helpful. We’re glad to have you as part of our community. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

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