Cancer Doesn’t Mix Well With the Holiday “Blues”

5 years 2 months ago
Posted under Cancer Guidance, Caretakers, Survivorship

There’s an element of sadness and grief associated with every cancer diagnosis, both in the patient and in his or her network of family and friends. Add in the chaos of the holidays, and you have a frustrating mixture of emotional distress to add to the physical symptoms of cancer.

But when does the normal range of emotions cross the line into clinical depression? How can you find emotional support?

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 15 – 25% of cancer patients experience clinical depression. People who are clinically depressed:

  • Feel guilty or worthless
  • Don’t enjoy anything, even favorite activities
  • Experience changes in eating and sleeping
  • Feel more tired or sluggish
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Constantly think about dying or committing suicide
  • Can’t conduct normal activities they should be physically able to do (daily routines like brushing teeth and self-care)
  • Have these and other symptoms for most days of a two-week period

Depression can be a reaction to a cancer diagnosis, or it can be caused by medical factors such as pain, imbalances of nutrients in the bloodstream, hormone imbalances and medication.

Major depression can cause physical symptoms and pain that can be worse than the side effects of cancer and treatment. If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from depression, take it seriously and seek help in one of the following ways:

  • Tell your oncologist about the symptoms of depression and ask for a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Many options are available to lessen symptoms of depression, a serious disease that is largely undiagnosed and untreated.
  • If you believe there is a risk of suicide, seek help immediately by calling 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

The Supportive Services team at PearlPoint Cancer Support wishes for you a peaceful holiday season and is here to help you identify resources for support during your entire cancer journey. If you or someone you know needs support, visit our library of resources at My PearlPoint or contact us today.

Bailey Groetsch, LMSW