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Depression after Treatment

longtermsurvivor's picture
longtermsurvivor
Posts: 1790
Joined: Mar 2010

I got to thinking as I read this.  People post from time to time on this board who are clearly depressed, or post about someone who is clearly depressed.  It makes intuitive sense that depression frequently follows treatment for this disease, but I was unaware until now that anyone has actually looked at it.  I know this:  no one ever asked me questions about depression throughout all of my several treatments.  No doctor, no nurse nor social worker, not one time.  Depression can be treated.  All  of us aroud this disease; patients, family and other support people, need to be aware of it and get it treated as it arises.  The disease is hard enough.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/28/us-head-cancer-idUSBRE97R0SE20130828

MarineE5
Posts: 750
Joined: Dec 2005

L T S,

This is a good post, like you, I really don't remember being asked if I was depressed, may have been asked and can't remember. I have to admit, one evening, I held a "Pity Party" for myself and then moved on. Laced up my boots and got ready for the fight. I think that the Doctors focus so much on healing us physically, that they often overlook the mental aspect of it. I guess that they think that we have so much thrown at us to think about, we don't have time to get down.

It does seem like a huge mountain to climb after we hear those words "You have cancer" and your brain goes numb for a spell.

Thank you for posting that.

My Best to You and Everyone Here

Sunshine60
Posts: 74
Joined: Apr 2013

Part of my husbands assessment when meeting with his cancer team was with the psychologist to address both depression and anxiety. As a mental health professional myself,  I was happy to see it.   Despite treating depression and other mental health disorders on a daily basis, I was just as devastated and became just about as symptomatic as my husband. Both of us ended up on meds for insomnia and something for anxiety.   This diagnosis affects family, friends, work.  This diagnosis is horrible.  Never be afraid to ask for help going through this process, whether that be medications or counseling.   Just over this past year, I have sent many to this site for support.

I so look up to you all!   * Hugs*

longtermsurvivor's picture
longtermsurvivor
Posts: 1790
Joined: Mar 2010

This last go around I had, I didn't get depressed, but my wife did.  The entire treatment time and beyond for her was spent in a black funk.  While I was lucky enough to not need help, her depression injured our business, further compounding the already significant problems for us.  It was a huge black hole in our lives.....

 

Thanks for the observations.

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 1906
Joined: Jun 2012

I've been pretty good at not allowing myself to go to a dark spot. Before my recurrrance, I had a mindset of needing to live "as if today was one of the good old days" just in case things got worse. Perhaps my darkest moment was the day I was told by my ONC of the recurrance. She told me the scan results, gave me a script for Zoloft, a phone number to cancer physciatrist, told me to call my original surgeon and that there was no need to make a follow-up appt. with her at that time.  She pretty much left me to find my own hope. I took the zoloft 2 days and decided I needed to face this without being in a fog. Glad I did.  Because of the recurrance and changing from Barnes/Siteman Cancer center to Mayo, I had the opportunity to read several doctor's notes. I saw things like "pleasant 61 year old female" "well dressed" "well groomed" "listens well". At first I thought it unusual and then, after seeing similar from several doctors. decided it was code for saying she doesn't seem to have thrown in the towel, hasn't given up and doesn't appear to be depressed.

Makes me think they were watching for signs and hopefully would have addressed the issue if they saw a need.

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3687
Joined: Mar 2012

Don't know why...but reading what your Dr.s said gave me goosebumps.  All I could think in my head was:  "I want to be like her!!!!" Smile  You are a winner, girl. 

p

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 1906
Joined: Jun 2012

I always say I don't have a choice, I do it for my family that I adore but I guess a person really does have a choice. I've had a day or two spent in bed feeling sorry for myself but more often when I wake and the negative thoughts start to creep in, I remind myself that it is a day God has given me and I need to get up and rejoice in it. That usually works for me. I think you & I are allot alike....just wish I could carry off that beautiful smile you always have in your pics!

katenorwood
Posts: 1821
Joined: May 2012

I was just reading an article on this one.  Not just for dx's of cancer, but other dibilatating conditions.  This does not make us weak !  I am being treated for anxiety and depression daily.  The meds. take the edge off.   I'm facing adcc....o.k., and also a lung disease that will take my life.  MANY doctors unless asked don't push the depression or anxiety issue much.  Though most of us at rechecks fill out a form asking us where we are at with this issue before seeing the doctor.  According to the article.....which I get and understand.....they don't want to admit defeat as in my case.  But also as human beings shouldn't we be told of these real issues, and how we can address them ?  My uptake on this one is it is the human condition, not for everyone, but for many of us.  I am learning acceptance....and living life to it's fullest....and not giving in to the darker side of my outcome.  Life is precious, and we deserve the best quality of life that can be offered.  Please everyone reach out for the hand up.  It's o.k. to do !  My best sent to all, and hugs sent to all !  And Pat you rock with your posts, thank you my friend !   Katie    

debbiejeanne's picture
debbiejeanne
Posts: 2393
Joined: Jan 2010

pat, thank you 4 this very important post!  i suffered terribly with depression during recovery.  i'm sure others do as well.  cancer takes a lot out of us and thats hard to take sometimes.  i finally beat my depression w/meds.  i pray that everyone suffering w/depression will beat it.

dj

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1206
Joined: Dec 2012

Pat,

Thanks for raising this topic. For those with no history or experience with depression then having those symptoms thrown on top into the boil of dealing with the crazieness of treatment and recovery can make it difficult for the survivor to specificlayy identify the depression. Since there has not been a lot of dialog on this topic here recently, it may be hard to gauge the extent of the condition and how often it is detected and treated.

 

The researchers had excluded patients with diagnosed depression or use of antidepressant medications before cancer treatment, so as to focus on mental health problems arising after treatment.

The study excludes paitients who were already diagnosed with depression prior to the cancer. I'll share my experience for those in this category. I have been living with chronic depression for many years, finally diagnosed more than a decade ago. Over the years, I am pretty tuned into my mental state and was concerned while enduring this whole experience with cancer.

Surprisingly, from the initial doctor visit through the last day of treatment, my depression remained in check and stable. But just this past 10 days ago (3 months post treatment), I had a pretty noticable bout hit me. This is the first incident of depression but I am getting on the phone to the psychiatrist to get my meds tuned up. I feel one of the lucky ones as my past experiences allowed me to stay on top of this all the time.

For those not experienced with depression it may be quite difficult to sort out so the doctors really need to keep an eye out for onset of depression but they are not necessarily qualified to diagnose depression. I guess the most we can hope for is keeping the topic alive here for patients and survivors and encourage them to seek help if they sense being down more than normal.

Thanks

don

cureitall66's picture
cureitall66
Posts: 860
Joined: Aug 2012

Pat,

This is a nice article to share. You have always been very helpful with your posts and advice. Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated. Thank you for sharing this.

Cris

Roar's picture
Roar
Posts: 239
Joined: Mar 2013

every week i would have to fill out a paper that asked all kinds of questions.Do you have thoughts of this or that - not outright asking if you are depressed but all the questions related to depression 

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1206
Joined: Dec 2012

You have a great place that is doing that screening weekly. I think I got one initially and never followed up orasked again. must depend on facility.

jim and i's picture
jim and i
Posts: 1603
Joined: May 2011

You are so right. Men especially have a hard time admitting they are depressed. Took me and the doc awhile to convince Jim but he finally gave in. He only had to take it a couple of months but it helped him get over the hump.

 

sin9775's picture
sin9775
Posts: 198
Joined: May 2013

Just yesterday, my brother-in-law was released from the hospital.  They told him they THINK he has chronic leukemia and he should make an appt. with an oncologist within ten days.  They then handed him three prescriptions - an antibiotic, something for his low potassium level and something for anxiety.  When they left, my b-in-l  told my sister not to bother filling the script for anxiety because he was fine and he wouldn't be needing it.  She told him that she probably will!  Men are oftentimes like that, unfortunately.  At least the hospital saw the possible need for the meds.  Of course nobody talked to him about it, but it's a start. 

~Shawn~

TracyLynn72's picture
TracyLynn72
Posts: 680
Joined: May 2013

The hospital had a counselor come in several times to check on me during my surgeries.  She has called me to follow up through my rads and after.  They were ready to prescribe something if I needed it at any time.  I think it's so important to acknowledge that depression can and will set in.  

robswife87's picture
robswife87
Posts: 178
Joined: Mar 2013

suffering right now. I was devastated witht he diagnosis, cried for a week and then pulled up the boot straps and got to work. 

In the last month my depression and anxiety have been horrible. I cry at everyting. We started to think what changed and we had upped my thyroid, it was time for PMS, possible perimenopause and the scan was coming up. I needed to take a day off work because I could not function. 

Rob called it the perfect storm. Seen my doc yesterday, who is just awesome, who has definitely decided I am moderately depressed and upped the antidepressant that I have taken for 16 years. 

I guess I didn't have time to fall apart during treatment and recovery and now that I am not needed as much for daily things I have a lot of time to now dwell on the whole trip.

I have been here before and pulled out and I will pull out again. Still to much time to do to many things and "ain't nobody got time for that"

Sandy

debbiejeanne's picture
debbiejeanne
Posts: 2393
Joined: Jan 2010

sandy, ur depression is understandabe.  be'n a caregiver is very hard and u go thru hell just like us patients do!  and not get'n the "all clear" on the scan makes things worse.  i hope the new dose of meds help.  take care of yourself b/c rob needs you  Laughing 

dj

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 2929
Joined: May 2012

Pat,

I filled out the evaluation forms a number of times.  I found myself altering the categories and answers to match my (at present) condition.  My doctor thought it was funny, but also very honest and helpful.  I was in such a fog, I just wanted to help things along the best I could.

The only real down moment I recall was when I asked what stage the cancer was and she said Stage IVa.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  I had always associated Stage IV with death and here I was not even feeling the cancer at all and I thought I might die.

As a side note, I took one Lorazapam before every rad treatment (mask time), so for 7 weeks I felt no (mental) pain and instead concentrated on alleviating the side effects of treatments and slept well and slept often.

Matt

Mikemetz's picture
Mikemetz
Posts: 342
Joined: Nov 2011

Without recognizing it at first, I have gone into cycles of coping with the series of diagnoses and treatments for the last 4+ years.  It started when my ENT guy told me he suspected I had cancer.  I went into a funk for a few days and then came out of it quickly, determined to do whatever I had to do to survive this thing.  Same thing as the chemo and rads treatments started.  First it was "Whoa is me" and then, "What do I need to do to make it through?"  Once I recognized the pattern and convinced my wife that's how I would cope, it became a cycle.  I held a lot of short-term pity parties, but quickly those turned into finding the strength to get on with things and survive.  Maybe that's the key--some of us can make that change, and some can't.  It doesn't mean that those who can are "better people"--it just means that they can get over the humps and move on.  Those who can need to help those who struggle--that's a big part of CSN.

Mike

 

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1206
Joined: Dec 2012

Mike,

What you describe is normal human reaction to bad news, not depression if it lasts so short a time and you bounce back to normal just like that. I think the term depression is now part of our culture starting with BigPharma pushing drugs decades ago.

It is perfectly normal to be have lots of feelings that put you in a bad place after being diagnosed with cancer. Once depression sets in, it is very hard to pull out quickly. 

Anyway as usual the disclaimer I ain't no doctor but seen a lot in my life. best, don

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