It’s normal for someone diagnosed with cancer to experience feelings of sadness, fear, anger and grief. It’s when those feelings prevent you from functioning in your everyday life and you feel emotionally paralyzed in your situation for an extended period of time that you need to seek help.
Cancer patients experience depression two times more than the general population and studies have shown that mental health and social well-being can affect the success of treatment. Those diagnosed with cancer have life plans that are interrupted, a change in physical activity and ability, role changes in relationships, and career, may experience a loss of self-image or sense of self. They also experience fears about the cancer growing within their bodies, anxiety about the success or failure of treatments, worry over their families and caregivers and may fixate on the possibility that their lives will be cut short from their disease.
Those diagnosed with lung cancer have an additional set of issues facing them. Some may experience the stigma associated with the disease and experience anger or guilt, isolation or shame depending on whether or not they had a smoking history and whether or not they feel they are getting adequate medical and emotional support from their local communities.
Lung cancer survivors may also feel outrage, anger and a sense of being forgotten because of lack of public awareness and support of the disease in the media, limited treatment options available for the disease and sparse funding that goes to research the disease.
Depression is more than just the normal feelings of sadness. Depression is when an individual experiences at least one of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:
-Feeling sad most of the time
-Loss of pleasure and interest in activities you used to enjoy
-Changes in eating and sleeping habits
-Slow physical and mental responses
-Feeling guilt for no reason
-Decreased concentration ability
-Thoughts of death or suicide
Getting help for your depression can help your cancer experience feel less challenging; it may help your relationships with the people around you may give you back some sense of control over certain parts of your life.
Visit the National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov/ for more information on depression in cancer patients and call your doctor if you feel like you may be suffering from depression.
Did you experience depression with your lung cancer diagnosis?
Share your tips on how you dealt with your depression by commenting below.
Katie Brown in the Director of Support and Advocacy for LUNGevity Foundation. She is also a certified lung cancer patient navigator.
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