The idea that being diagnosed with a terminal illness like malignant mesothelioma would make a person feel depressed hardly comes as a surprise, but there is a significant difference between feeling down and dejected and being clinically depressed. While feeling sad, angry or grieving the loss of your future is a healthy response to any kind of hardship, when depression is clinical it can have a real impact on a patient’s experience of their illness – and more importantly, on their ability to heal. A recent study of patients diagnosed with another type of cancer provides a cautionary tale, and can serve as a guidepost for caregivers and healthcare professionals supporting patients with the rare, asbestos-related disease.
Ohio State University’s Depression Study’s Meaning for Mesothelioma Patients
Though the study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University specifically focused on 186 patients diagnosed with Stave IV non-small-cell lung cancer, the many similarities between the two illnesses make their findings about depression pertinent. This is particularly true because the scientists determined that the risk of depression can make a real difference in patients’ level of pain, and even in whether they experience adverse effects from treatment.
The Ohio State researchers’ research conclusions regarding depression’s risks were based upon data that they gathered from telephone conversations with patients. The patients were asked about their symptoms and functioning among other things. They found that though the majority of patients were doing well from an emotional perspective, with either mild depression or none at all, a significant number were classified as being moderately to severely depressed.
Depression Makes Mesothelioma Experience Much More Difficult
There is a big difference in a mesothelioma patient being sad or feeling dejected and being clinically depressed, and it is essential that those working with these patients recognize the difference According to Barbara Andersen, PhD and Clinical Professor of Psychology at Ohio State,
“Depression is just part of what these patients are dealing with. It comes with this whole package of worse functioning, more physical symptoms, stress, anxiety and more. All of these can have negative effects on treatment, overall health, quality of life and disease progression. Some oncologists may have a mindset that ‘of course, you’re depressed, you have lung cancer.’ This may show an under-appreciation of the breadth of depressive symptoms and other difficulties which accompany it.”
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or are a caretaker for somebody with the disease, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.