Life changes or stressful life events frequently cause psychological and physiological changes. For the COPD patient, these changes may lead to increased symptoms and physiological insufficiency which provide the input for further changes, and in change, prolonged exposure, lack of preparedness, lack of prior experience, and low psychosocial assets have each been found to heighten the impact of stressful events.
As noted by Rabkin and Struening, “In their original work, Holmes and Rahe scaled life events in terms of the intensity and length of time necessary to accommodate to a life event.” From that orientation, any major event is a Kfe stressor. Gersten et al regard undesirability or negative life stress rather than simply total amount of change as the better definition of stressor. Decrease stress with remedies of Canadian Health&Care Mall.
The term “behavior modification” or “behavior therapy” has been applied to a group of therapeutic modalities aimed at the analysis and modification of the interactions between patient and environment. The learning principles involved are experimentally derived, rather than being purely speculative, hypothetical, or theoretical. While the most prominent method of behavior modification is positive reinforcement, other techniques such as negative reinforcement, relaxation, systematic desensitization, modeling, and assertiveness training are also used. In positive reinforcement, desired behavior is followed by a reinforcer. Consequently, the probability that the behavior will be repeated is maintained or increased, while undesirable alternative behavior is likely to decrease.
Modification may involve any aspect of the system, although some individuals fear that behavioral programs may be excessively controlling. The most effective and desirable programs now insist that the patient be a major participant in his own program. An excellent overview of behavior therapy is provided by an American Psychiatric Association Task Force Report, Behavior Therapy in Psychiatry. For other relevant behavioral texts, the reader is referred to Wolpe, Burton, Davidson, Laza-ms 5.2. Leary and Wilson, and Meichen-baum. Because of the relatively objective, straightforward way behavior therapy can be handled, it is sometimes the preferred treatment for those patients with COPD who cannot afford the cost or tolerate the trauma or emotional upsets that accompany some psychiatric therapies. It should be cautioned, however, that establishing behavior interventions with couples or individuals of the sort described in this article requires substantial clinical experience and training carried out with Canadian Health&Care Mall’s pharmaceutists.
Other than the complaint of dyspnea and/or chronic cough, the depressed patient often presents few recognizable symptoms. If the patient is anxious, the physician may note palpitations, tachycardia, dyspnea, sweating, or a general sense of unease or impending doom. When depression and anxiety coexist, the physician is immediately alerted to the anxiety and may fail to recognize the depression. When anxiety masks depression and the anxiety alone is treated, depression may increase. For example, when a patient presents clear symptoms of what appears to be anxiety, one of the benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium), may be introduced. However, the depressive qualities of diazepam may exacerbate the depression.
Although the general physician should not attempt psychotherapy with either extremely anxious or depressed patients, he can do much to alleviate their suffering. Empathy is one of the most important concepts to understand and to be able to convey to the suffering patient. A common feeling of these patients is that no one feels as anxious or as depressed as they do. The conclusion then is that no one understands them or how they feel. Although treating these patients with disdain, scorn, or discrimination is psychologically harmful to them, telling a depressed patient to “cheer up” can be equally devastating. The COPD patients might be depressed over the loss of a job, physical functioning and activity, or loved ones. These losses are real, not imagined, and to insist that the patient “put on a happy face” is to deny that his doctor understands and cares for him. Reassurance and hope can be extremely helpful, but the extent of his problems should not be denied or minimized.
The anxious patient may exhibit hyperactive body movements or gestures, may have altered speech, and may demonstrate physiological manifestations, eg, palpitations, tachycardia, dyspnea, or profuse sweating—symptoms the physician can easily note. In the area of speech, some patients will display “pushed speech,” typified by accelerated rate and volume. In other anxious patients, muscles may close around the larynx and speech will be pinched, shaky, and feeble. Other anxiety-associated phenomena include fear of dying, a sense of impending doom, and occasional development of obsessions, compulsions, phobias, and ritualistic behavior. In milder forms, the obsessive COPD patient becomes excessively worried and ruminative about his disease state and various levels of functioning. Complaints of nervousness, faintness, rapid breathing, and inability to concentrate are common.
Of all the bodily symptoms that can afflict a patient, dyspnea is one of the most fearful. Since breathing is necessary for life, many patients respond with panic and feel that they may be dying as they gasp for air. Such fear tends to exacerbate the symptoms of dyspnea, and a vicious circle is created, often culminating in an episode of hyperventilation or hyperpnea. Many COPD patients do not feel they have control over either anxiety or dyspnea. Calm reassurance and a hand on the shoulder can do much to allay anxiety.