Sixty-one per cent of people with asthma in Ireland have experienced symptoms of depression, while one in five say they have been unable to work due to their health.
Those are among some of the alarming statistics reported by the Asthma Society of Ireland, which recently released the results of a significant study into the well-being and mental health of Irish adults living with asthma.
Ten per cent of those surveyed said they felt “much more limited” in comparison to others their age due to their health, while six per cent reported feeling depressed “most of the time”.
More than half – 51 per cent – said they “felt despair” over their health at some stage, with 14 per cent saying they felt that way most or even all of the time.
Sleep was the most affected daily activity for one in 10 respondents, while almost 30 per cent agreed that they felt discouraged by their health issues.
Nearly half of those questioned (46%) said they had little or no energy in the four weeks before the survey.
“I am really pleased that asthma is now being taken seriously,” said Caitriona Kennedy, one of the survey participants, who has had asthma since childhood. “I felt nobody understood the constant exhaustion asthma brings; it is only in very recent years that this has been spoken about.”
According to Jerry Buttimer TD, chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee, the study “dispels the myth that asthma is not a serious condition. It unearths new facts about the emotional trauma asthma can bring and the severe effects it can have on quality of life.
“The patient voice is loud and clear in this study. Its findings provide a basis for improving the life experience of those with asthma while at the same time delivering financial and social savings for us all.”
Figures show that asthma and related conditions cost 12 days of work productivity per year, and 10 days of schooling per child, while the cost to the exchequer is more than €2,700 per hospital admission.
And despite the availability of comprehensive guidelines on asthma management, the condition is a growing killer of Irish adults.
“The vision of Healthy Ireland is one where everyone can enjoy their physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential,” said Asthma Society of Ireland chief executive Sharon Cosgrove.
“This study highlights the need to make this vision a reality for people with asthma. We need full implementation of the National Programme for Asthma without further delay. People with Asthma should have the best possible care supported by appropriate interventions to help address the psychological and wellbeing issues highlighted in the study.”
The Health and Wellbeing Study was commissioned by the Asthma Society of Ireland, Novartis and UCC to investigate how adults living with asthma in Ireland perceive their health and wellbeing; explore how severely the disease affects the everyday life of adults living with asthma in Ireland; investigate whether there is a relationship between the concepts of health and wellbeing in those living with asthma and distinguish how perceptions of health and perceptions of wellbeing affect one another.
For further information visit www.asthma.ie, call the Asthma Adviceline on 1850 44 54 64 or talk to your GP.