World Mental Health Day: Mental Health and Asthma
October 10th is World Mental Health Day. Living with asthma, or any other chronic disease, it’s important to know the impact of life with health issues on our mental health—and what we can do to protect or improve our mental wellbeing.
- People with asthma have a significant increase in risk of mental health conditions including anxiety disorders and depression, as well as an increased risk of alcohol misuse disorders (alcoholism).1
- In the United States, people with asthma are nearly twice as likely to experience alcohol dependence.1
- Panic disorder, drug use disorder, and suicidal ideation are all more common among those diagnosed with asthma.2
- Suicidal ideation was present in more than double the participants with asthma in the study than those without—12.6% with asthma vs. 6.0% without. 2
- In children, mental health disorders can make asthma more difficult to control—including hyperactivity/attention deficit, impulsivity, depression and/or aggression.3
If you have concerns about your mental health.
The most important thing to do is talk to someone. Asthma is tough to deal with, and reaching out to someone does not make you weak—it means that you are choosing to be in control of what you are dealing with. We all feel not like ourselves from time to time, and that is okay, but if you feel like you are overwhelmed by feelings you don’t like or understand, or are depending too much on alcohol or drugs (misuse of prescription drugs, or non-prescription/illicit drugs), the best thing you can do is reach out to somebody for help. If you need immediate help and/or are considering suicide, call a Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US - 1-800-273-8255, text chat also available on their website) or visit your nearest emergency department.
If I reach out for help, what happens?
It depends who you reach out to. Some common considerations are your primary care or family doctor, a local clinic (or Klinic for mental health), or a therapist/psychologist.
These people will listen to your concerns, and take you seriously. They will then help you find a plan and build a network of people to help support you as you learn how to cope with what you are dealing with. In some cases—certainly not all—a psychiatrist may be consulted to provide medications to assist with symptoms. Often, drugs do not have to be a long-term solution, but can simply assist in the other work you are doing with therapists to help you feel better. As you develop the skills you need to cope in the long term, you may be able to come off of medications.
Therapy may be a part of your journey. I chose therapy as part of my skill building for my ADHD, and I was very much in control of the process—sometimes, I did not know how I wanted to proceed, so my therapist made suggestions. Though it did start off to be a bit intimidating not knowing to expect, it was overall a positive experience. Ask questions, and know you can always switch therapists if yours is not a good match. It may also be important to ask if your therapist has experience with people with chronic disease.
You are not alone.
The statistics above are clear—if you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug misuse, or other mental health conditions alongside asthma, you are certainly not alone. Sometimes, finding someone who knows what you are going through can help a lot—just make sure they are a positive influence, and will not drag you down from the progress you are making!
Disclaimer: This article discusses issues concerning mental health, suicide/suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. Please seek professional help for any of these concerns, including but not limited to the resources below
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org --> With live chat
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Local support search--> http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov
Have you ever experienced an itchy chin prior to or during asthma attacks?