- Question from nightshade7: Is it natural for someone with cancer to become despondent, confrontational and then in some cases suicidal?
- Answers - David Spiegel I would say no. Sure there are moments of despondency and despair with anyone, but someone who is suicidal is not reacting normally but is probably depressed and needs treatment. For that, there is help with a mental health professional, usually a psychiatrist. There is a substantial minority of cancer patients who are depressed. There are treatments--psychotherapies and pharmacotherapies-- that can be very helpful.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. If you are feeling suicidal, you really must seek professional help.
- David Spiegel Your oncologist or your primary care doctor can refer you to a psychiatrist. The American Psychiatric Association at 1400 K Street in Washington, DC can make referrals. The other thing is if you are near a medical school, you can call the Dept. of Psychiatry and you could get treated. If it is a real emergency and you think you will harm yourself, get yourself to the nearest hospital emergency room.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Feelings about Breast Cancer featured David Spiegel, Ph.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about the emotional effects of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2000.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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