Talking Therapy

Why is mental health and well-being important?

Learning to live with a long-term lung condition is not always easy. Not being able to do some of the things you used to can lead to frustration, anger and sadness. You might also feel anxious about your symptoms flaring up, or worried about how your condition will progress in the future. 

Anxiety can negatively affect your breathing- learning to deal with these feelings can help you cope better physically too. If you are experiencing anxiety and/or depression, this is very normal and very common; however, these feelings shouldn’t be ignored. If you notice that these feelings are lasting for more than a couple of weeks you should speak to your GP, practice nurse or specialist lung team; there is mental health help and support available for you.

What can I do to help my mental health and well-being?

1. Acknowledge how you are feeling. The first step is often acknowledging and accepting that you are not feeling good mentally. This NHS self-assessment quiz is designed to help you understand how you have been feeling recently and will also give you links and information on how you might find some help if you need to. 

2. Talk to your healthcare team about how you are feeling. If your symptoms are affecting your quality-of-life they may be able to suggest a change to your treatment plan, or they may be able to refer you to a professional counsellor or therapist for who is trained to provide talking therapy and help you deal with stress, anxiety and depression. All talking therapy services are confidential.

3. Find a mental health specialist yourself. If you don’t feel that you can talk to your GP or healthcare team about your feelings, then you can access mental health services on the NHS yourself here.

4. Look after yourself. There is lots you can do to make yourself feel better without professional help. Eating well, taking as much exercise as you feel able, getting outside and visiting or speaking to friends will all help your body and mind be as healthy as it can be. Give yourself a treat or take time to do something you enjoy when things are tough. You can also learn breathing techniques, which help calm symptoms of anxiety and breathlessness. You can find more ways to improve your health and wellbeing on our site.

5. Connect with others. Talking to other people who are in the same situation as you can help with feelings of loneliness and isolation. There are organised groups up and down the country, which bring together people with lung conditions to socialise, share experiences and learn more about their condition. Click here for more information.

What sort of Talking Therapy can I have on the NHS?

Talking therapies are available to you on the NHS, if you need them, and are completely confidential. Psychology specialists and counsellors are trained in a number of different types of talking therapy, they will be able to choose the right kind of therapy for you. The most common types of talking therapy for people who are feeling depressed or anxious because of a health condition are:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) (CBT looks for practical ways to help you change the way you feel about things, and can help people with long-term health conditions cope better mentally with their symptoms)
  • Guided self-help (You will work through a workbook or online psychological course, with support from a therapist; guided self-help may be useful if you struggle with travelling to appointments) 
  • Counselling (Counselling gives you the opportunity to talk through your emotions, thoughts and feelings in a safe environment with a trained therapist who will help you find your own ways to deal with your feelings) 

What to do in a crisis

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call a local NHS mental health helpline for 24-hour advice and support:

Find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline

You can call for yourself, your child, your parent or someone you care for.

If someone’s life is at risk or they cannot be kept safe, call 999 or go to A&E.

Where can I find out more?

You can find a lot of information online about ways to improve your mental health and well-being for people with or without a lung condition, as well as the different types of talking therapies available. Here are a few links to get you started.

NHS talking therapies

ASTHMA+LUNG UK- Looking after your mental health