Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness can bring on a horde of emotions—including grief, sadness, anxiety and depression. The most common reaction is grief and sadness, whereby patients mourn their loss of health and the uncertainty that the disease brings.
However, this normal feeling of sadness, fear and anger is often confused with depression. This period of grief does not last a long time, unlike depression and anxiety, which can have a profound effect on the mental health of the patient. One must see a mental health specialist if you experience signs of depression.
The statistics record that about one in four people with cancer truly face depression. What we can mistake for depression, however, in our everyday dealings with a cancer patient, is a normal healthy reaction to a profound change. Read on to find what the signs of depression are, and how to deal with it.
Signs of depression:
Depression is when the grieving period lasts too long, and the patient refuses to come out of it. Moreover, it brings about a feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness. The patient will stop finding happiness in things that formerly brought joy. They can also find it difficult to perform activities of daily living, and there can be a change in appetite, sleep and weight.
There must be attention paid to the emotional and psychological health of the cancer patient, as well as their relatives.
Role of family in depression:
Depression is not only common in a cancer patient, but it can also occur in the family members of the cancer patient. This is because cancer affects the whole family, and not just the person who has it. Some family members try to protect the person with cancer from upsetting news and end up causing tension and confusion. It is also taxing on the family members to deal with upsetting news.
The patient themselves may find that they are taking out anger and frustrations on their family and caretakers. Even in the best-knit families, there can be resentment and anger when the sick person cannot do their part for a long time.
The best way to deal with such a scenario is, to be honest, and communicative amongst each other. Talk about your feelings of guilt, fear, frustration or whatever you are feeling so that you don’t use a lot of energy in dealing with these emotions when it could be used to deal with your disease. It will also free you up from the burden of unspoken concerns and fears.
It can also help to talk to each other about coping mechanisms. Everyone handles disturbing news in their own way. If you remember and respect this fact, you will understand each other better and in the end work better together.
Breaking news to children:
If there are children in the family that you have to break the news to, then you must remember that children pick their cues from the adults. How they handle news depends on how the adults are dealing with it. Give honest answers to your children and other family members and don’t ‘shelter or protect’ them from what you think will be disturbing to them. It is best to share small amounts of information over a period of time, rather than unloading all at once.
Patients feel embarrassed and afraid to admit they are depressed. Depression is just a chemical imbalance in the brain and nothing to feel ashamed about.
The best way to cope with it is to find professional help, and with therapy and medication, you can feel better and regain a better sense of control over your life. You can easily book an appointment with a top therapist in Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.