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What Can You Do When Cancer Causes Depression?

cancer patient

If someone close to you has cancer, you already know how difficult it can be for the patient and the people who love them. Having friends and family available to provide physical and emotional support can be essential to the health of everyone affected by a cancer diagnosis. It is not uncommon for people with cancer, their families, and friends to become depressed at times.

If you know someone with cancer, there are a variety of things you can do to help, although the Covid-19 pandemic has made it challenging to engage in some tasks. Whether your friend is experiencing depression, anxiety, or physical side effects of treatment, sending a cancer gift basket from Rock the Treatment is a perfect way to provide meaningful help and show you care.

Our cancer gift baskets contain items selected specifically to help ease the physical and emotional side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. We offer chemo gift baskets and radiation gift baskets for men, women, and children. Call us at 516-690-7009 to find out more about sending someone you love a cancer gift box.

Do People Coping With Cancer Get Depressed?

It is completely normal for cancer patients, their families, and friends to feel grief and sadness. They are coping with a lot; uncertainty about the future, canceled plans, fear, and change.

When these feelings last too long or are severe enough to interfere with daily activities, there might be cause for concern. Depression can be temporary and come in waves. It can also, however, become severe enough to fall into the category of “major depression” or “clinical depression.”

One in four cancer patients has clinical depression, hampering their ability to follow treatment protocols, and perform many ordinary functions. (Family members can also experience depression, making it difficult for them to support and provide care to the patient.).

What Are Some Signs of Depression in Cancer Patients?

Noticing signs of depression in people with cancer is often up to surrounding friends and family. You might notice that someone is extremely anxious or exhibiting signs of distress. These often go hand-in-hand with depression.

Here are some common signs of depression experienced by people with cancer that might indicate professional help is warranted:

  • Lack of interest or loss of pleasure in formerly enjoyable activities
  • Sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness that lingers for most of the day, almost every day
  • Extreme lethargy, staying in bed, curling up on the couch for most of the day, most days
  • Changes in sleep patterns, insomnia, waking up several times a night, excessive sleeping.
  • Loss of energy
  • Other people are telling you or noticing that you “seem tired” or are “slowing down.”
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble focusing and concentrating
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Feeling helpless, guilty, or worthless.
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Significant changes in weight

Some of these signs of depression can also be caused by chemotherapy, radiation, or other cancer treatments. Make sure someone speaks to the doctor to better understand how cancer can affect mental health.

How Can You Help Someone With Cancer Deal With Depression?

Battling cancer is difficult enough and causes all kinds of emotional distress and sadness. Clinical depression can add an entirely new layer of challenges and adversely affect everyone coping with cancer.

Enlisting the guidance of doctors is an important part of treating depression. There might be medications, counselors, and support groups that can help relieve some of the suffering brought on by depression.

As a caregiver, friend, or family member, there are things you can do (or avoid) that might help someone you love who is feeling depressed.

  • Encourage the patient (gently) to talk about their feelings and fears, even if they are difficult to hear.
  • Listen attentively and carefully to what they are saying and try not to judge. It is ok to disagree but avoid invalidating their feelings.
  • Engage in activities the patient enjoys
  • Try not to tell your friend to “cheer up” or “stay positive.” Sometimes the best thing you can do is let them share their negative feelings and wallow in them for a moment.
  • Remember, you might not be able to reason with someone who is experiencing anxiety or depression. Logic might not help. Enlist help from a professional if you suspect they have major depression.
  • Suggest counseling or support groups and provide resources if they wish to pursue these options
  • Discuss the potential value of prayer, mediation, mindfulness, and/or deep breathing exercises with them.

As a caregiver or friend, make sure you recognize signs of depression in yourself also. All of these suggestions apply to you – seek out your own support and professional help should you need it. Spend time doing what you love with people you love, making sure to take care of your own mental and physical health.

 Send a Cancer Gift Basket to Someone You Love

Are you are looking for a good way to show someone battling cancer that you care? If someone you love has cancer, send them a helpful cancer gift basket from Rock The Treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation gift baskets are packed with the essentials needed to ease side effects of treatment, as well as enhance physical and mental well-being. See all of our cancer care packages and find the one that best supports their journey.


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