In brief: Get help for those COPD blues

In brief

Get help for those COPD blues

Researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston used hospital records to find 1,334 people who had been diagnosed with some type of breathing problem, including bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and several others. By asking just five questions over the phone, they preliminarily identified 80% (1,067) of the group as anxious, depressed, or both. Further testing showed that as brief as those interviews were, they were 80% accurate.

A study-within-the-study of 204 people with COPD found that about two-thirds were troubled by anxiety or depression, yet only about a third of them were getting help for these problems.

Previous studies on this subject have generally involved patients being seen in clinics or doctors' offices. The Texas investigators say their study, published in the April 2005 issue of the journal Chest, paints a fuller picture because it isn't limited to those who are actively seeking care. More important, it shows that a simple screening for depression and anxiety is practical.

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