Asthma & Depression: What's the Link?

If you suffer from asthma and also experience signs of depression and anxiety, this may not be a coincidence. In fact, recent studies have shown a relationship between these two conditions. This means that if you have the chronically inflamed airways that typically go along with asthma, it is important to take note not just of your physical symptoms, but also of your state of mind as well.

The Link

Research included in the Journal of Adolescent Health reveals that children with asthma have twice the likeliness of having the signs of depression and anxiety as their counterparts. This is an important finding, since it reinforces a relationship that experts have long suspected. The study also indicated the fact that some young people with asthma who also have mental health issues are falling through the cracks.

Other Risk Factors

It is also worth noting that asthma alone wasn't the only risk factor among youngsters with depression and related conditions. Having a newer asthma diagnosis, living in a single parent household and being more limited physically as a result of asthma symptoms all impacted state of mind.

The Mind-Body Connection

The experts attribute the connection between asthma and depression symptoms to a number of variables, including the fact that children with asthma often miss school frequently, have night-time symptoms that interrupt sleep, experience emergency room visits and find their ability to engage in sports and social activities limited by their symptoms. All of these things can lead to feelings of isolation and poor self esteem, according to the experts.

It isn't just children at risk for these problems either. Today depression symptoms affect a total of close to 22 percent of all women and almost 13 percent of men, according to statistics provided on the Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website, and there seems to be an overlap between adult depression and grappling with the effects of asthma similar to that seen in younger patients. Complicating the problem is the fact that asthma patients who are depressed are often less likely to follow their asthma management plan to take control of their condition. This can be a vicious cycle of untreated symptoms leading to further feelings of hopelessness and frustration.

The Warning Signs

If you think you could have a serious case of depression, here are some of the warning signs provided on AAAA's website:

  • Sadness
  • Reduced interest in every day events and activities
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Sleep disturbances or changes
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Low self esteem
  • Trouble focusing
  • Thoughts of death

What You Can Do

If you think you could be depressed, it is important to seek professional help. The good news is that this condition can be easily treated with medication, emotional support and behavior modification. With the help of your doctor, you can address your asthma and depression symptoms at the same time, so you can achieve a healthier state of body and state of mind.


Health Outcomes Related to Early Adolescent Depression, 12 July 2007, Danielle Keenan-Miller, Constance L. Hammen, Patricia A. Brennan, Journal of Adolescent Health, September 2007 (Vol. 41, Issue 3, Pages 256-262). You can access the abstract at

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website, Allergy and Asthma Advocate, Asthma and the Blues available at