Published on March 13, 2014
Depression and Mesothelioma Dana Nolan MS, LMHC, NCC Mental Health Counselor
What is Depression? Depression vs. The Blues Everyone has “The Blues” from time to time Depression is a mood disorder that is more serious and affects one’s ability to function both physically and emotionally (800) 615-2270
Criteria for a Diagnosis of Depression Presence of 5 or more of the following symptoms daily for at least two weeks: Feeling sad/depressed most of the day No pleasure or interest in normal activities Significant weight gain/loss without trying Insomnia or hypersomnia most days Psychomotor agitation or retardation (800) 615-2270
Depression Criteria (con’t) Fatigue without exertion Feelings of worthlessness or guilt Decreased ability to concentrate or problem solve Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide (800) 615-2270
Reasons Why Depression is Common When Coping With Mesothelioma As a patient: New challenges and losses to cope with Chemo can effect your neurotransmitters Social isolation Fear of the unknown (800) 615-2270
Reasons Why Depression is Common When Coping With Mesothelioma (con’t) As a caregiver: Worrying about loved one Feel overloaded with extra duties Putting own needs on the back burner to care for loved one Hopeless about future (800) 615-2270
Why is it Challenging to Diagnosis Depression in Mesothelioma Patients? Look back at the criteria for diagnosis of depression Sleep changes Weight changes Fatigue Poor concentration These can all be side effects of treatment or disease effects of mesothelioma (800) 615-2270
Helpful Hints to Figure it Out During treatment for mesothelioma, most patients and caregivers have good days and bad days It is common to feel down in the dumps emotionally on days when pain, fatigue or nausea affects your ability to do things However, if you still experience depression symptoms when you are not tired, in pain, nauseous (aka your “good” days) then you may be depressed (800) 615-2270
Treating Depression Years of clinical research have shown that anti- depressants and/or cognitive behavioral counseling provides the fastest and most effective relief from depression In many cases, a common symptom of depression is a sense of hopelessness and withdrawal from support resources, which leads many people with depression to NOT admit to their depression or seek help (800) 615-2270
Counseling Variety of counseling theories or “paradigms” Best for depression is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) Focuses on education about depression Increased awareness of symptoms Challenging negative thoughts Increasing healthy behaviors and coping CBT is only provided by licensed mental health professionals (800) 615-2270
Anti-Depressants Work by altering brain chemistry (neurotransmitters) that become unbalanced when someone is depressed Most common types are SSRI and SNRIs: Effexor, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Luvox, Pristiq (800) 615-2270
Anti-Depressants (con’t) Must be taken daily Takes up to 4-6 weeks to work May need to try more than one to find what works for you Not addictive, but shouldn’t be stopped abruptly Side effects are minor and usually go away after a week (800) 615-2270
Supporting Someone Who is Depressed Encourage them to talk to their doctor and go with them. Express concern (not criticism) about what you see Invite them to get out of the house Tell them you love them Do NOT tell them to “get over it” or “be positive” (800) 615-2270
Conclusions It is very common to experience depression while battling mesothelioma (or any cancer) There are many treatment options that can relieve depressive symptoms Encouragement, support and understanding can go far to help someone you love get help with their depression (800) 615-2270
Contact Information 1-800-615-2270 (800) 615-2270
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