Many people around the world, from children to old adults, are burdened with depression. People diagnosed with terminal illness are even more likely to suffer depression or anxiety as they deal with extreme psychological distress. Sadly, depression is frequently underdiagnosed in patients with terminal illness which adds up to the person’s discomfort and pain at the end of life. It is our duty, as a society, to look after those patients and help add life to their final days.
The medical literature suggests that the incidence of major depression in terminally ill patients ranges from 25% to 77%.
Depression and anxiety can be overcome especially with early treatment and diagnosis, however, there are many challenges:
- Patients and their caregivers might confuse clinical depression with normal grieving that occurs for everyone who faces death, and therefore, might be reluctant to inform the doctor.
- Telling apart the symptoms of depression from the symptoms of the terminal disease can be difficult. It is often hard to know whether the symptoms seen in an individual patient are related to the depression or his/her illness.
- Caregivers might start experiencing the same feelings of grief and therefore, they might be less likely to properly assess feelings of depression or suicidal ideation in the patient.
Management of Depression
Treatment options may include counseling, psychotherapy, or psychoactive medications. It is also important to educate the caregivers and the patient’s family on what to expect and how to deal with the patient’s depression.
At Josaab Foundation, our team members and volunteers are trained to deal with patients in such conditions. We also arrange for professional counseling for patients with depression and anxiety. It is crucial to enhance the quality of life for patients with terminal illness by eliminating unnecessary suffering.
Ratini, Melinda. “End of Life: Coping with Anxiety and Depression.” http://www.webmd.com/palliative-care/end-of-life-coping-with-anxiety-and-depression?page=2
Fine, Robert L. “Depression, Anxiety, and Delirium in the Terminally Ill Patient.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1291326/