Anxiety and depression in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A review

Nord J Psychiatry. 2004;58(1):65-70. doi: 10.1080/08039480310000824.


A review of the literature revealed high comorbidity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and states of anxiety and depression, indicative of excess, psychiatric morbidity in COPD. The existing studies point to a prevalence of clinical significant symptoms of depression and anxiety amounting to around 50%. The prevalence of panic disorder and major depression in COPD patients is correspondingly markedly increased compared to the general population. Pathogenetic mechanisms remain unclear but both psychological and organic factors seem to play a role. The clinical and social implications are severe and the concurrent psychiatric disorders may lead to increased morbidity and impaired quality of life. Furthermore, the risk of missing the proper diagnosis and treatment of a concurrent psychiatric complication is evident when COPD patients are treated in medical clinics. Until now only few intervention studies have been conducted, but results suggest that treatment of concurrent psychiatric disorder leads to improvement in the physical as well as the psychological state of the patient. Panic anxiety as well as generalized anxiety in COPD patients is most safely treated with newer antidepressants. Depression is treated with antidepressants according to usual clinical guidelines. There is a need for further intervention studies to determine the overall effect of antidepressants in the treatment of anxiety and depression in this group of patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*


  • Antidepressive Agents