- Question from Susan: What are some things we can do to prevent depression from developing during treatment?
Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W.
Depression, sadness, fear, and anxiety are really normal responses to a diagnosis of breast cancer. There is nothing that any of us fears more than a diagnosis of cancer, and having these responses is neither good nor bad, but normal. The attempt to push these feelings away, to deny them, takes more energy than it's worth. And if chemotherapy continues, it takes more energy than the patient has.
Women need to experience the feelings, go through them, look for techniques that are helpful, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, and support groups or counseling. With time, all these uncomfortable feelings will ease up, but unfortunately there's no magic way of going through what is really a normal response.
- Diane Thompson While depression may not happen to everyone, it's important to know that it is very common. While we cannot protect ourselves from feeling depressed, we can understand that it happens and let our families know how we feel. If we can discuss symptoms of depression with a spouse or family member, then the whole "team" can have a better understanding of depression if it occurs, as well as urging family members to get treatment if necessary.
- Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. Avoiding isolation and staying involved in activities that nurture you can be good ways to lessen depression. You may find that your friends and family keep asking "How are you?" In being concerned about you, they may forget your shared jokes, interests, and the activities that represent the real you. Staying connected through things that are important to you, whether it be work, friends, or hobbies, is important. This will help you avoid isolation. Although it may not prevent depression, it may lessen the severity of depressive symptoms.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Overcoming Depression featured Rosalind Kleban, M.S.W., Diane S. Thompson, M.D., and Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. answering your questions about medication and lifestyle changes that can ease depression along with to put hope, fun, and pleasure back into your life during and after breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2003.
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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