Health and Wellness

ACT: Taking Hurt to Hope

JoAnne Dahl, Ph.D.

ACT: Taking Hurt to Hope – Struggling with Asthma

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing , chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning. Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood. In the United States, more than 25 million people are known to have asthma. About 7 million of these people are children. Here in Sweden, one out of every three children has allergies and that has tripled in the last 20 years. Allergy is the most common chronic illness in the western world. Allergy and Asthma go hand in hand. People who have asthma have inflamed airways. This makes them swollen and very sensitive. They tend to react strongly to certain inhaled substances. When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. This narrows the airways, causing less air to flow into the lungs. The swelling also can worsen, making the airways even narrower. Cells in the airways might make more mucus than usual. Mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can further narrow the airways.

This chain reaction can result in asthma symptoms. Symptoms can happen each time the airways are inflamed. When symptoms get more intense and/or more symptoms occur, an asthma attack. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency care, and they can be fatal. Asthma has no cure. Medication alone is not enough. It is vital to understand the psychology involved when a person has an asthma attack. Today you are going to get a chance to talk to an expert. Dr Maria Karekla. Maria is a licensed clinical psychologist and lecturer at the department of psychology at the University of Cyprus. Maria is a recognized ACT trainer and the director of the ACThealthy: Anxiety disorders and Health psychology research laboratory in Cyprus

Remember that ACT has three principles: 1) Opening up, which in the case of asthma means literately opening up or widening your lungs or airways, 2) Becoming aware, which in the case of asthma might be becoming aware of what part of this reaction is directly related to an allergen and what might be a conditioned reaction, and 3) acting in directions that matter, which in this case might be, continuing to live a valued life together with asthma symptoms.