The Importance of COPD Support Groups

Depression – anxiety – fear – anger – the emotional impact of COPD is often overlooked. But studies show that depression and anxiety can increase your risk for COPD flare-ups.[1] That’s why finding a COPD support group is an important part of living with the disease. Not only will a COPD support group help you feel less alone, but it will give you a place to express your feelings in a safe and supportive environment.

What Do the Studies Say?

COPD is a disease that results in devastating lifestyle changes for the patient including loss of independence and self-esteem. Physical restrictions and shortness of breath often limit enjoyable activities which takes an extreme toll on a patient’s happiness and well-being.

But current research shows that social and emotional support can be protective for health. One study found that those with low to moderate levels of social support were almost twice as likely to be readmitted to the hospital after a heart attack as those with high levels of social support.[2] Another study conducted on elderly women found that the risk of death was almost 2.5 times higher in women with the lowest levels of social support than in women with the highest levels.[3] Yet another study found that social support is related to broader types of positive health behaviors, including eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising and smoking cessation.[4]

Finding a COPD Support Group

Don’t have a COPD support group in your local area? Online COPD support groups can be crucial for people with COPD who don’t have access to support groups that offer a physical location. Where can you find an online COPD support group? We’re glad you asked!

There are several you can find online, such as COPD-Support is a non-profit, online support community that offers informational and support programs for people with COPD and their caregivers*. One of the most unique things about them is their financial means are met by donation only and the site is managed completely by volunteers who all have COPD. To follow is an overview of what they have to offer:

The COPD List – their main program – is an electronic mailing list that any subscribed member can post to. It was established to provide support, education and a platform in which to share ideas and solutions.

The Caregiver’s List is an electronic mailing list for caregivers of people with COPD. It’s a place where caregivers can ask questions, share experiences and get support for the everyday stressors that are associated with the job of caretaking.

In the Chatroom, you can have real-time conversations with other members; the only difference is, instead of speaking with one another, you type at your keyboard.  As long as you’re logged in, you can see what everyone else is typing and respond in real-time.

The Forum is a discussion board where members can post questions and receive answers. It differs from the Chatroom in that messages are longer, more detailed and archived so they can be searched. Viewing current topics does not require registration, but if you want to post new topics or respond to topics already posted, you must register (which is free).

Other online support programs offered by include: the SmokeNoMore Program, the Let’s Get Fit Program, the Watch List and Smiles of Sunshine (S.O.S.).

The Bottom Line

Finding a COPD support group is just one aspect of living with COPD. Sometimes, people with COPD need medication to help manage their emotions, at least temporarily. If depression and anxiety persist for longer than two weeks, be sure to see your doctor.


*Inogen is NOT recommending online support groups as a replacement for advice from your doctor or medical professional. Please always seek out professional medical advice first. Any advice you seek out from online support groups is at your own discretion.

[1] Catherine Laurin, Grégory Moullec, Simon L. Bacon, and Kim L. Lavoie “Impact of Anxiety and Depression on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbation Risk”, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 185, No. 9 (2012), pp. 918-923. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201105-0939PP.

[2] Rodríguez-Artalejo F, Guallar-Castillón P, Herrera MC, et al. Social network as a predictor of hospital readmission and mortality among older patients with heart failure. Journal of Cardiac Failure. 2006;12:621–627. [PubMed] A prospective study on social integration’s protective effect on MI morbidity.

[3] Lyyra TM, Heikkinen RL. Perceived social support and mortality in older people. The Journals Of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences And Social Sciences. 2006;61:S147–S152. [PubMed] A population survey study showed that for elderly women.

[4] Reblin, M., & Uchino, B. N. (2008). Social and Emotional Support and its Implication for Health. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 21(2), 201–205.

By Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN


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