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Emotional & Social Effects of Asthma

The psychological impact that asthma has on any individual person is determined by many factors, such as:

  • Asthma severity
  • Limitation of activities due to asthma
  • Social and family support available
  • Age at which asthma symptoms started
  • Level of asthma-related skills and knowledge
  • Overall personality and coping style

Difficulty breathing, leading to the sensation of "air hunger", can of course be terribly upsetting. It is common for people with asthma to experience fear that they are going to die during an asthma episode. The fear of dying then can become more general and continue when the person is not having active symptoms. Asthma episodes are for most people somewhat unpredictable, and unpredictable events are known to be more stressful than events that can be anticipated and prepared for. Feeling that another asthma episode could start at any time may cause a person to feel anxious constantly.

Each person's asthma experience is unique, but there are some feelings that many people with asthma experience at one time or another.

  • Fear and Anxiety
  • Hypervigilance
  • Loss of Control
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Embarrassment
  • Confusion

There is, of course, no one right way to go about dealing with the emotions that asthma can cause. There are some strategies, though, that many people find particularly useful.

  • Take an active role in taking care of yourself.
  • Learn and practice relaxation exercises or meditation.
  • Find yourself a health care provider you feel comfortable with.
  • Acknowledge and accept the feelings you're having.