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I really need some advice on how to handle my Dad's current state of depression. He has absolutely no quality of life left. He is afraid to be left alone and is afraid to leave the house. He can barely walk to the bathroom. He walks all hunched over and his arms and hands shake alot. He cries several times each day and really does not join in on conversations. This weekend he had his three daughters, two son-in-laws, wife, and five grandchildren at his house all day. He barely talked to any of us. Just sat on his chair all day long. When we all left he cried and cried. My Mom is getting depressed also. She can't go anywhere without him making her feel guilty. He does not do anything for himself, but refuses any outside help.

We are not sure how much of this is from the chemo (Altima & Avastin) and how much is mental illness. His family has a long history of mental illness, but before he was dx he was good and enjoying life.

He is already taking Ativan and Zoloft for depression, but refuses to get any other help.

I'm not sure what to do next. Everyone (brother and sisters) tells me I will never be able to change him and to just let him be. If I do that I'm afraid I will lose my Mom also. I don't know how much more of this she can handle. I spend the most time with my Dad and he relies on me a great deal. I may be easy for my brother and sisters to let him be, but I see him everyday and it breaks my heart.

I was thinking of asking his Oncologists how much more time my Dad has in his current condition. If he says my Dad could have 6 or more months left then I will fight to get him to accept some help. If he has less time I don't want to spend it fighting with him to get help. I suppose the Dr. can't really answer that question. The Oncologist is sympathetic about his depression, but really offers no advice for us on this matter.

It has been almost one year since my Dad was dx. and he has been unable to truely enjoy one minute of his life since that day.

I'm very close to my Dad and it is killing me to see him like this mentally and physically.

If anyone has any good advice for me I would be most grateful.


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I finished your post and let out a long sigh and shook my head. I am so sad your dad has been unable to find a way to enjoy his life since diagnosis.

My sister-in-law was very much the same way and everyone who cared about her was nearly driven over the edge trying to find a way to give her some emotional strength, some peace. Lots of people gave up and stopped visiting because they couldn't stand the terrible anxiety and depression they felt around her. I was afraid my MIL was going to break.

He has medication and won't accept counseling. He has made a choice to be as he is and experience this the way he does. It's tragic, I know. You want the people you love so dearly to have good lives, happy moments, and peace of mind. But a person can't be helped unless they want and accept help.

Here's my advice: you have no control over your dad's emotions and behaviors. But you have control over yours and your mom has control over hers. Each of you can get outside help (counseling, anti-depressants) to help you both cope and endure. The extra support, comfort, and care you two seek for yourselves may also allow you each to offer more to your dad than you will be able to if you allow this to destroy you. Change and improve what you can in this situation - get help for yourselves - and it just may start a positive chain-reaction. Go with your mom to counseling if you want.

I have seen this help people in similar situations. It has helped me in the past.

Sending all caring thoughts and strength to each of you.


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I think Leslie has given you excellent advice. You must take care of yourself and your mom where you can, so you don't crater as well.

Is there anything your dad was interested in as a hobby or pastime that you could focus him on? Unfortunately, you can't help someone who doesn't want help. Your dad has much to be depressed about, but he has to want to get better, and noone can do that for him, including you. Don

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Have you sat down with him and asked him what his goals are? Does he want and expect to feel better? Have you laid it on the line for him that it's up to HIM to make the change, but you'll help him any way you can?

Sometimes depressed patients cannot see the obvious. They just get so sick of the same old thing every day. It's hard to accept a new "normal" when you long for something more...

Can he set small goals? The achievement may give him a boost of self-esteem.

You wrote he can barely walk to the bathroom - does he need physical therapy? It can be arranged to be done in the home if travel is too strenuous.

If you've done these things, and he doesn't want to change, then you will have to accept that this is the path he's chosen.

Get your mom to go to a counselor or support group.


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I am not sure what your Dads progression of disease is... you do not have anything posted under you name. Does he have brain mets? It sounds to me that your Dad's behavior could be attributed to more than just depression. I say this because you describe him as being unable to walk and shaking... that is probably why he is afraid to be left alone and I am sure that is why he does not want to leave the house. I am assuming he just "can't" physically handle these things anymore. I know its frustrating. I feel for you and your Mom, but I feel for your Dad because I think he is feeling so blue because he sees his body failing him and he can't do anything about it.... I could be way off track... it just sounds so identical to the way my father became, I am drawing a parellel to that.

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Thank you all for responding so quickly and with great advice. My mom and I will be attending a support group for caregivers of cancer patients next week. I'm hopeful this will help my mom deal with everything. I'm also going to have her talk to her Doctor about changing her anti-depression meds. They don't seem to be working for her right now. Although I don't know if anything will. I'm more worried about her right now than myself. I get to go home to my husband and kids.

My Dad has had two brain tumors sucessfully treated with Cyberknife. We are not sure how much these are affecting his mood. Doctor never told us about possilbe mood changes.

We are going to see Nurse Practioner on Wednesday for a new pain in his stomach. I'm going to ask her if she thinks he can take another chemo treatment right now.

Thanks again for listening and for all your help.


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Have you tried calling Pathways? It is a place that is not for everyone and just right for many. It may be of help to you, too, I don't know. It is in Uptown. There is no fees for most of their services. I have made some very strong and good friendships with others who go there. There is a wide array of services that are offered. Howard Bell is the person to talk to about your Dad.

Other than that, there are so many good counseling/grief practices. One of my friends is a grief couselor. She is wonderful. Her name is Sandee. She "gets it". In every way. I can pm her tel to you if you wish.

Part of the problem of being human is that we are more than just physical. When the physical is out of whack, other things go out of whack too. Time to find a balance between mind, body, spirit.

Hope Dad is open to help. That is where to start. He needs to have an open mind and soft heart to accept help.

All my best to you and your Dad, Denise.

Cindi o'h

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My mom went through a heavy bout of depression this summer that lasted about 3 weeks. It was tough on all of us, including her. I can tell you that she has rebounded quite nicely. She is volunteering at my kids' school every day that she can, and her energy levels are up.

Does your dad have a reason to go to bed every night and get up? When school started again, my mom had a schedule again, and had to take care of herself so she could be a part of the school (and her friends there). She is also able to see that, even though she is sick, she still has a lot to offer the world.

I don't know if any of this helps, but I will keep you in my prayers.

:) Kelly

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Just for a precaution, when he has his next blood work ask them to check his T levels.(Thyroid) Normal is 3, my husband had a lot of the symptoms like your dad and his T levels were like 30. He had an overactive thyroid and did not know it.

After they took care of that he joined the living.

I am not saying that is it, but it wouldn't hurt to have it done.


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Dear Denise,

When I went through my chemo, it caused me a LOT of depression or maybe just plain sadness! And I know of many others, not just LC survivors that will say, chemo causes you to feel or be depressed or very sad. I would cry at the drop of a pin. When I would kiss my kids or my husband I cried, when I would say, I love you, I would cry, I cried my heart out for weeks during my chemo. It really does a number on our emotions. No Doubt About It!

I was aware, but I couldn't do anything about it. It was like something just came over me, and I couldn't stop it! :roll::? But, half way through my chemo things got better for me. A lot less crying.

I think you and your mom and dad need to have a good heart to heart talk. How? I'm not sure, but it sure sounds like your all overdue for one. As painful as those talks are and can be, they are very important to all concerned. I hope one day you can all do that. And soon!



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The after effects of cyberknife would, I suspect, depend on where your dad's brain tumors were. I am currently getting whole brain radiation as I have many small brain "deposits" as my onc likes to call them :roll:

I was told that because radiation would hit the pituitary gland, that all glandular functions in the body could be affected...such as thyroid. So having a thyroid panel done is a good idea.

Also, some anti-depressants may not agree with your dad's "chemistry" and perhaps if you report his current mood to his doctor, he'll order a change in what dad is taking. It might help. With Dad's family history of mental illness...this could all be more complex...but you'd need a doctor to tell you if that is the case. A good chat with Dad's primary doc OR his onc, would seem to be in order.

If Dad is currently getting chemo, then he is likely getting some steroids too...and THEY can mess with emotions big time. Another thing to check into.

Does your dad drink plenty of fluids? Is he staying hydrated? I go thru 3-4 bottles (16-20 ozs) of water per day, plus a little coffee, milk, juices. Dehydration can cause some wonky side effects too...and staying hydrated is important especially during chemo. Pinch the skin on dad's forearm. If it immediately returns to normal...he's hydrated. If the pinched skin remains up and sloooowly returns to normal...he may be dehydrated.

Meantime, as Leslie so wisely has counseled...take care of YOU and make sure Mom takes care of herself too. Getting some Caregiver counseling is a wonderful idea. Sometimes this disease IS harder on the caregiver, I think.

Hope you get some of this figured out and that counseling helps both you and your mother. Keep us up to date...will you? Wishing you the best...

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