Anxiety and depression in COPD: current understanding, unanswered questions, and research needs

Chest. 2008 Oct;134(4 Suppl):43S-56S. doi: 10.1378/chest.08-0342.


Background: Approximately 60 million people in the United States live with one of four chronic conditions: heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and major depression. Anxiety and depression are very common comorbidities in COPD and have significant impact on patients, their families, society, and the course of the disease.

Methods: We report the proceedings of a multidisciplinary workshop on anxiety and depression in COPD that aimed to shed light on the current understanding of these comorbidities, and outline unanswered questions and areas of future research needs.

Results: Estimates of prevalence of anxiety and depression in COPD vary widely but are generally higher than those reported in some other advanced chronic diseases. Untreated and undetected anxiety and depressive symptoms may increase physical disability, morbidity, and health-care utilization. Several patient, physician, and system barriers contribute to the underdiagnosis of these disorders in patients with COPD. While few published studies demonstrate that these disorders associated with COPD respond well to appropriate pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapy, only a small proportion of COPD patients with these disorders receive effective treatment.

Conclusion: Future research is needed to address the impact, early detection, and management of anxiety and depression in COPD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents