Friday 22 November 2019

Two-thirds of asthma sufferers 'left feeling depressed over health'

Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Almost two thirds of asthma patients have experienced depressive symptoms in the last four weeks, while one in five were unable to work because of their health.

A new study of 200 patients has examined the toll that the condition can take on the health and well-being of adults with the condition.

The Asthma Society of Ireland launched the results of the study which also found that 82pc of respondents felt their physical health was also limited as a result of their condition.

Some six per cent studied admitted to feeling depressed "most of the time."

More than half (54pc) said they "felt despair" over their health at some stage, with 14pc told how they felt that way most, or all of the time.


Almost one in 10 (9pc) of respondents to the study also revealed that sleep was the daily activity they felt was most interfered with.

Some 46pc of people with asthma said that they had little or no energy over the past month, according to the study.

The loss of productivity in the workforce and at school due to asthma-related illness is 12 days per adult and 10 days per child per year in Ireland, according to the latest figures.

"We need full implementation of the national programme for asthma without further delay," said Sharon Cosgrove, the society's chief executive.

"People with asthma should have the best possible care supported by appropriate interventions to help address the psychological and well-being issues highlighted in the study," Ms Cosgrove said.

Meanwhile, David Hevey, associate professor in psychology at Trinity College, said that he is particularly struck by the psychological challenges associated with living with asthma.

"Individuals can experience a sense of shame about having asthma and encounter stigma from others in their day-to-day life," he said.

"Asthma is associated with elevated rates of clinical depression, clinical anxiety, and panic," said Mr Hevey who is a health psychologist.

Cat Kennedy (38), who has had asthma since childhood, attended the launch of the survey.

"I am really pleased that asthma is now being taken seriously. I felt nobody understood the constant exhaustion asthma brings," she said.

Cat, who is a primary school teacher living in Blackrock, said she had asthma from a very young age, so she has grown up with it.

"It was extremely difficult when I was younger," Cat told the Herald.

"As a child, it was very hard because it was so severe. I spent an awful lot of time in hospital, and was in and out all the time.

She says that her condition has improved since she began taking a new medication, Xolair.

"I was put on it about four years ago. I was one of the first people in Dublin to go on it," she said.

"I climb mountains now in my spare time. I am a hiker," she said.


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