The Mesothelioma Center's March Support Group - Coping with Depression and Mesothelioma


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There are many reasons why people with mesothelioma may develop symptoms of depression as they live with their disease. Caregivers can also struggle with depression. At our March group meeting, we will discuss the symptoms of depression and ways to manage them.

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The Mesothelioma Center's March Support Group - Coping with Depression and Mesothelioma

  1. 1. Depression and Mesothelioma Dana Nolan MS, LMHC, NCC Mental Health Counselor
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. Contact Information 1-800-615-2270 (800) 615-2270