Manage your depression

Asthma getting you down? Or is depression having an effect on your asthma?

What is depression?
Is depression making your asthma worse?
Don't suffer in silence
Is your asthma making you depressed?
You don't have to put up with asthma symptoms
Can asthma medicines cause depression?

What is depression?

It’s important to see your GP if you think you might be depressed. Everyone feels down at times, but if you have depression, these feelings go on for longer and start to have an effect on your life.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling low or sad
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling tearful
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feeling irritable
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Not getting any enjoyment from life
  • Feeling anxious or worried

You might also have physical symptoms like sleep disturbances and changes to your appetite.

You can also visit our support page for a full list of organisations that can help.

Is depression making your asthma worse?

Although it can be difficult, trying to keep emotionally well is important because strong emotions such as fear, stress and depression can trigger asthma symptoms in some people.

It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle: depression may make it hard to look after your asthma properly, so your asthma symptoms get worse, and you then feel more worried and less able to cope – and on it goes.

Don't suffer in silence - you can

Call the Asthma UK Helpline to speak to one of our friendly asthma nurse specialists on 0300 222 5800 or message them via WhatsApp on 07378 606 728 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).

Is your asthma making you depressed?

Having asthma can be frightening, especially if it’s new to you, or if you experience regular or severe symptoms.

It can lead to anxiety or depression, extreme tiredness and even embarrassment and guilt – particularly in young people.

Asthma can cause problems in other areas of life, too. If you work, you might be worried about having to take time off sick. If you’re a student with asthma, you may be anxious about missing lessons or failing exams following asthma attacks.

Research suggests that depression may be more common in people with asthma, and that people whose asthma isn’t well controlled may have more severe depression and a poorer quality of life.

You don’t have to put up with asthma symptoms – you can

  • talk to your GP or asthma nurse about how your asthma is affecting your life and how that makes you feel
  • make sure you see your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year for an asthma review to help you stay on top of your asthma
  • talk through your written asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse so you know the signs that your asthma is getting worse, and what to do if this happens. If you feel in control of your asthma, you may feel better emotionally, too
  • ask your GP or asthma nurse to check your inhaler technique so you know you’re using your inhaler(s) in best way and getting the full benefits of the medicines.

Can asthma medicines cause depression?

Some people tell us their asthma medicine makes them feel more depressed or causes mood swings.

Depression can be a side effect of taking steroid tablets for asthma, especially if you take them for over three weeks or take a higher dose.

The side effect usually goes once you’ve completed the course of tablets, but it’s important to take them exactly as prescribed. If you stop taking them early, you may end up needing higher doses of steroids in the long run.

Taking steroid tablets in the long term can have other side effects that might affect your mood, such as weight gain and difficulty sleeping. If you’ve been feeling depressed for more than two weeks, seek help from your GP, asthma nurse or consultant.

Remember that steroid tablets can be life-saving and will only be prescribed if your GP, asthma nurse or consultant thinks that the benefits outweigh the risks.


Last updated October 2019

Next review due October 2022