Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Psychosom Med. 2003 Nov-Dec;65(6):963-70.

Anxiety and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: prevalence, impact, and treatment.

Author information

  • 1Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.



This article reviews the prevalence of anxiety disorders in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as the impact of comorbid anxiety on quality of life in patients with COPD. Published studies on three types of treatments for anxiety are then reviewed: psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation programs.


A PubMed search was conducted of the literature from 1966 through 2002 using the keywords anxiety, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory diseases, obstructive lung diseases, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Any articles that discussed the prevalence of anxiety symptoms or anxiety disorders among patients with COPD, the impact of anxiety on patients with COPD, or the treatment of anxiety in COPD patients were included in this review.


Anxiety disorders, especially generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder, occur at a higher rate in patients with COPD compared with the general population. Not surprisingly, anxiety has a significant and negative impact on quality of life of COPD patients. Nonetheless, few studies have examined pharmacological, psychotherapeutic, or pulmonary rehabilitation treatments for anxiety disorders in the context of COPD. Trials of nortriptyline, buspirone, and sertraline have been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Similarly, cognitive-behavioral programs that focus on relaxation and changes in thinking also produced declines in anxious symptoms. Finally, multicomponent pulmonary rehabilitation programs can also result in reductions in anxious symptoms.


Studies examining the treatment of anxiety disorders in patients with COPD are promising, yet their efficacy needs to be established. The long-term effects of treatment of anxiety disorders on quality of life of COPD patients have yet to be explored.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Support Center