People who have asthma are significantly more likely than those who don't to have symptoms of depression or a diagnosis of depression or anxiety. Similarly, 10 to 42 percent of people with COPD have clinical depression and 10 to 19 percent have an anxiety disorder.

Potential solutions. If you think depression or anxiety could be preventing you from using your medication as prescribed, speak to your doctor. In some cases, your medication may be causing the symptoms.

For example, palpitations, and nervousness, which are symptoms of anxiety, are common side effects associated with beta2 agonists—albuterol (Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA), levalbuterol (Xopenex HFA), formoterol (Foradil) and salmeterol (Serevent). Your doctor can work with you to rule out the medication as a cause of your side effects.

If the problem isn't medication-related, treating your mood or anxiety symptoms may lead to improved quality of life and better adherence to your COPD or asthma therapy.

Other Medication Side Effects

Are you experiencing other symptoms that you believe are drug-related side effects? Beta2 agonists can increase your heartbeat. and a common side effect associated with anticholinergics—ipratropium (Atrovent) and tiotropium (Spiriva)—is dry mouth.

Potential solution. Tell your doctor about any problems you're experiencing. She or he may be able to prescribe a lower dose of medication or another drug that doesn't cause the side effect that's troubling you.

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 14 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 14 Aug 2013