Asthma and Psychological Factors
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Asthma and Psychological Factors

How psychology is involved at various stages of Asthma such as at the initial onset of symptoms, diagnosis, and ongoing management of symptoms and treatments?
Asthma
Asthma and Psychology

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes difficulty in breathing, coughing, and wheezing. An asthma attack is considered a medical emergency. An incomplete success of asthma treatment may depend on the presence and interaction of different causes related to the disease itself (Baiardini, et al. 2015).

Asthma attack-illustration NIH
  • Triggers, comorbidities, and asthma phenotype
  • Inadequate treatment and inadequate inhaler device
  • The patient-related causes such as socio-demographic factors, adherence, and knowledge
  • The physician-related reasons such as lack of consciousness as well as familiarity with guidelines
Is asthma caused by psychological factors?

There are different psychological factors involved at each stage of asthma, such as at the initial onset of symptoms, diagnosis, and ongoing management of symptoms and treatments. Psychological factors can influence a patient’s perception of the disease, the impact it has on the patient’s day to day life, as well as the interpretation of symptoms. Symptoms’ subjective perception, alexithymia, coping strategies, depression, and anxiety are examples of the psychological factors that, in cognitive or emotional dimensions most involved in Asthma experience and management (Baiardini, et al.2015).

Symptoms’ subjective perception: A study by Lurie shows that there s a vast difference between how a patient determines the severity of their illness and the doctor’s assessment of the condition. According to another study, patients with high negative emotionality report more dyspnea than others. The accuracy of symptom perception depends on a wide variety of cognitive and affective variables. Variables include emotional state, previous life experiences, attributions, contextual information, attentional and learning processes, expectations, and prior asthma experiences. And also personality traits, and psychopathologic disturbances (Baiardini, et al. 2015).

Coping Strategies


Coping strategies address disease management directly according to a cross-sectional survey involving 6,474 patients who explored coping in asthma management. About one-half of the patients described an active coping strategy, while a similar percentage of patients used a cynical approach. Patients chose to rely on fate or faith more frequently.

Depression and Anxiety

According to Baiardini et al, the presence of psychiatric and psychological symptoms is associated with increased severity of asthma symptomatology. Children and teens with asthma symptoms show a variety of mental health problems, and depression is significantly worse in severe asthma cases. A cross-sectional study conducted at the Asthma Outpatient Clinic of the Federal University of São Paulo Hospital in São Paulo shows how the prevalence of anxiety is higher in asthma patients with uncontrolled asthma than in those with controlled asthma.

How does mental health affect asthma?

Based on various studies conducted to identify the psychological characteristics of asthmatic patients, the conclusion was that asthma patients with mental problems had a higher level of asthma severity and poor control. And also, the psychological characteristics of asthmatic patients influence symptoms’ recognition, daily management, and disease outcomes.

Further, there are multiple behavioural changes a family member or friend can make to help a patient with asthma. While everyone responds differently to chronic illnesses, providing emotional support to manage effectively, is beneficial to the patient. Another way someone can help is by helping to identify, reduce, eliminate, control, or avoid asthma triggers.

References:

  • Supporting friends or colleagues with asthma. (n.d.). (URL)
  • Baiardini, I., Sicuro, F., Balbi, F. et al. Psychological aspects in asthma: do psychological factors affect asthma management?. asthma res and Pract 1, 7 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40733-015-0007-1