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Managing Depression After a Cancer Diagnosis


An excellent way to manage depression after a cancer diagnosis is by participating in a Cancer Recovery Fitness program. We know that exercise is helpful for healthy people, but it is especially helpful for cancer patients. Exercise groups are created and are comprised of patients who have similar cancers, surgeries, issues and concerns-resulting in a support group. This makes taking care of health enjoyable, fun and cost effective.

At what point should you visit a psychiatrist and request medication to treat the depression?


It is recommended that someone diagnosed with cancer connect with an oncology social worker prior to and during treatment because anxiety and depression usually go hand in hand with cancer. It is easier to deal with a mild depression-catch it before it becomes a deep depression. If depression does not lift in a week or two, medication might be appropriate.

What are some do's and don'ts when it comes to finding ways to pull yourself out of a depressive episode?


Do talk to family members, friends, or professionals. Participate in hospital support groups and exercise programs. Do not self-medicate. Old medications may have a bad reaction with current treatments.

How can you manage the fear of death that often accompanies this diagnosis?


Cancer may be associated with every ache and pain. The fear of death is there with every scan or scanxiety. The majority of the thousands of cancer survivors whom I have worked with, have used their cancer diagnosis as a wakeup call to live life to the fullest. They are no longer putting off vacations. They are spending time with those that mean the most to them and avoiding those with negative energy.

If your loved one is the person experiencing depression after a cancer diagnosis, how can you support him or her?


Give her/him something to look forward to-plan for the future--a dinner date, a movie, etc.

Offer to walk with her-especially important in the recovery process.

Tell your loved one that you will be there for her/him and you will help them get through this.

Be a good listener and follow their mood. Sometimes she/he will want to talk about the cancer and sometimes it is better to talk about other things.

One the best ways to help someone feel better during or after surgery and treatments is to encourage them to attend exercise sessions developed for cancer survivors. Exercise improves both physical and emotional health and can improve the recovery process.

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