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Dealing with Mom's Depression

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Good Morning All,

I talked to you awhile ago about my Mom who was diagnosed with Stage IV SCLC. She has had two rounds of Chemo that have gone horribly. She wound up in the hospital both times for several days because her white count was around 560. She has been dealing with the fatigue, nausea, diarhea but what has me even more worried than all of that is that she has not gone out of the house to do anything but her chemo treatments in the last 3 months, this includes the time between when she was diagnosed. She doesn't want her Grandkids to come and see her. She agreed to go see a therapist and I made an appointment for her which happened to be today and she calls me up and says she really doesn't want to go. She doesn't know what she would say to a therapist and says "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why I'm so depressed, I have cancer". She doesn't even want to go outside anymore and just seems to be laying on the couch in her living room a lot of the time. I really don't know what to do. I think the longer she waits to re-engage in "life" the harder it will be for her. Or am I just expecting way too much. Any help is most appreciated.

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Your post reminded me so much of what we went through with Dad. He too became very depressed and did not want to go anywhere. My kids would say why does Grandpa want to just sit in his little yellow tv room all the time. I tried everything possible to get him engaged in life. Somethings worked a little, but he never truely enjoyed himself. I never saw that sparkle in his eye or smile on his face again.

He did see a theropist for a while and he was on anti-depression meds. He was also on Ativan for anxiety which seemed to help the most. He also met with our church pastor quite often. He really seemed to get the most comfort from meeting with him.

I tried to schedule activities that would not require much energy on his part. Getting him outside seemed to help with his mood. We went on a paddle boat ride, drives to small towns for lunch dates, drives to visit places he used to take me to when I was little, I would also have them over to my house for dinner a lot. I always stopped by with the grandkids. I never asked if he wanted us there we just showed up. Seeing the kids was good for him, it helped with his mood.

I know it is so hard to see your parent so depressed. You feel so helpless. It is easy to fall into a depression yourself. Just keep trying anything, and appreciate the moments whens you get a glimpse of MOM again. It is so hard for us to understand what they must be feeling. We really can't blame them for being depressed.


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Charlene, your mom is in a deep depression, and rightfully so. it will take outside help to get her out of it. I would also say to get her moving, involved in little things, get her mind on something else. What does she like to do? Any favorite foods? Depression can spiral one down fast. Do what you can to help her reverse it. Good luck. Don

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I am so sorry that this is so hard. Because it is so hard on her, it is also so hard on you, a caregiver. This was somewhat like my dad.

I can honestly say I am a huge supporter of antidepressants, because your mom is right...there is no need for a rocket scientist...yet, there are things that we can do to make it better. I am not someone interested in taking medications, but I can say that many in my family got on them after dad's diagnosis, and it made a HUGE difference. Don from Texas is a huge help in this department, and I encourage you to email him. I will send him a note to email you...

God bless you today and always. May God grant you and your mom peace for this journey, and may you have the healing power of God.


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Yep, she's depressed, and yep, it's because of cancer. My mom withdrew from all of us (hard to do with my husband, my 4 y/o twins and myself around!) and stayed in her room a lot, watching TV, trying to block everything else out. But what REALLY helped her was seeing a psychotherapist at the cancer center she went to. When my mom was admitted once a month for her chemo, the therapist would receive word and come to her room. I had sessions with her, my mom had sessions with her, and we had them together. Another thing I'm discovering that helped my mom was to journal. What started out as just recoring her temps turned into her daily thoughts, and although there are just a few months, those words are so precious to me now that she is gone.

Something I remembered when my dad died (of LC also) is that I tried so very hard to not smother my mom in the early days. I told her specifically that I would stay with her when she wanted, and go when she wanted me to leave. It was hard to leave her (this is before she moved in with us) because I was so worried she would start thinking and crying. But then I realized she NEEDED to be alone; she NEEDED to have time to cry. It's very hard for me to be alone in my own home, I have three small children to care for and I never stop running, but when I need to, I go into my mom's room and shut the door and sit on her bed.

So, all in all, yes, your mom needs someone to talk to. For my mom, it helped to have a therapist who dealt only with the cancer patients at the center. God bless her. She was a wonderfully kind, patient woman who had absolutely heard it all, that I have no doubt.

I hope you rmom gets the help she needs. It's a hard thing to watch.

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My husband's Dr had him on antidepressants from day 1

Like Jen said, they have helped tremondously. Alan

has had some big time set backs and one time he was

ready to through in the towel, his quality of life

had become pretty bad. His Dr. promised it would get

better and it did. I also fight this demon from time

to time and although I do not take antideprassants, I

work closely with a Social Worker at the hospital Alan is treated at. we meet every week.

Talk to your mom's Dr about possibly putting your mom

on antideprassants.

Good luck to you and your family. Many prayers coming your way

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Thanks to each of you who took the time to write and through your words give me strength to keep talking, keep trying to reach my Mom, and that life means living and that goes for me too. You are all generous with your encouragement and your kind words. I can't tell you what it means to me that I found this site and the wonderful people who are involved. I wish I could get my Mother to do that, I think she would really benefit from it.


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Sorry your mother is dealing with this depression. I experienced it myself for a few months. I think what helped get me out of it was getting my symptoms (from treatment)under control or stopped. It is so very difficult to feel upbeat when you feel terrible and depression is not uncommon in cancer patients, but it is treatable.

Is your mom in any severe/chronic pain? I was having bad pain from the radiation. I was hurting, depressed, would stare out into space for a long time. I couldn't concentrate and wanted nothing to do with family or friends or going out. At first I didn't ask for pain meds because I thought the pain would pass quickly and I didn't want to seem like I was "complaining." But after I started taking the pain meds regularly I felt so much better! And I wanted to start doing things again. I now know how important it is to keep the pain away as best you can.

Although I never talked with a therapist, I know many cancer patients who have and it helped them. Talking to survivors might also lift her spirits and the depression--hope could be what is needed. Anti-depressants are also able to help.

Clinical depression (which sounds like what your mom has) is fairly common in cancer patients, but it's still not considered "normal." Help is needed. The fog of depression can be lifted.

Best of wishes to you both.

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I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. I know that I get very blue when my mom is going through her down times.

It kills me, but sometimes we just have to ride those out. Mom's tried 2 different antidepressants, but they were terrible on her kidneys (pre-existing problems). She's afraid to try again. Our priest does home visits with her every other week, and those help. I think she just needs to verbalize her fears, frustrations, and she hold some of that back around 'the kids'.

I pray your mom will be able to lift out of this depression. Use whatever resources you have to help her! It's so hard to tell when they need a nudge, and when they need space.

:) Kelly

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It is very common to be depressed with any kind of life threating disease. The medical profession is very well aware that being dx.d with lung cancer can cause serious depression.

More and more Onc Doc's and Pulm Doc's and even PCP's are right up front about antidepressants. When I was first dx.d 11 years ago, they didn't offer anything, nor did they even mention I might get depressed. Many of the doc's or nurses will mention this today.

Lung Cancer and Depression honestly go hand and hand. This is not at all uncommon.

When we are first dx.d with lung cancer, our thoughts are this, "I'm going to die" Just ask anyone here that has been dx.d with lung cancer. This is the norm! Part of that is because the darn stats don't give lung cancer patients much hope in survival. But, it's gotten a LOT better over the last few years. :wink:

Lung Cancer CAN be treated and CAN be controlled. And antidepressants CAN help with this journey. Most people think that being on antidepressants feel they will be all drugged up and sleepy and out of it. That is not the case these days with all the wonderful new meds we have. I say go for the comfort and what ever it takes to get through this journey. After a while she can go off them once she gets past the SHOCK mode she might be in right now. It's soooooooo scarey being dx.d with lung cancer.

Blood counts go havoc when people are on Chemo's. That too is very normal. Some people have more serious problems with it then others. She is going to feel like she just got hung out to dry. It knocks the socks right off you. (at least for some people)

I didn't want to leave my house either after I started my treatments, etc. For one reason , they tell the LC patient when starting chemo's to try and stay clear of small children or people with colds, flu, etc... Small children (God bless them) are very good germ carriers. When someone is on chemo, it's very important to try and keep them in a safe germ free environment. So this might be part of her reason for staying clear of people or not wanting to leave home. And YES it could and I'm sure it is that she is also depressed.

Be gentle with your mom. She is VERY VERY SCARED right now. And I'm sure she's not feeling all to great either. It's not an easy road, but it's doable. We can offer some help to both you and your mom. She is still in the very early stages of this dx.s, and so are you. There are a LOT of ups and downs with all of this. Please ask your mom to read this board if she has a computer. OR maybe see if you can hook her up with a Lung Cancer Phone buddy, someone that can relate to her and someone that can give her hope. There are many of us Lung Cancer Survivors right here!! :wink:

She HONESTLY HAS A GOOD CHANCE OF BEATING THIS, she just doesn't know that.

Good luck.

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Everyone and Especially Connie,

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I had a good cry last night and I think I was in mourning for the Mom I knew before the LC Dx. She and I are best friends as well as Mother and Daughter and there is this big void in my life because of it. Last night after much thought provoking help from this very message board I decided I have to be happy with whatever situation my Mom decides is best for her. Warmest Best Wishes for all you Guardian Angels who take time out of your precious day to help us.


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Like you I've only had to care for someone dx with cancer one time and this is it. We don't know all the answers at first and we learn as we go. Lisa has never been depressed, just sick and tired of being sick. Lisa did not go out either for months but she was not depressed, she was hibernating and healing. Your body needs to move in slow motion so your immune system can have the energy to kill a million or so cancer cells between chemo. and radiation. Your mom made a strong statement, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why I'm so depressed, I have cancer" and from that I feel she has come to terms with it and nothing to worry about in the depression dept. The main thing is to get the treatments working and don't give up. As you can read from Lisa's profile she had many things go wrong but now she has found the right treatment and is just now wanting to help herself in and out of the car and walking instead of the wheel chair. That took 4 mos to happen. What helped Lisa most was for me to spend quality, quite time with her in the evening reading or telling stories to her. We all did that when we were younger, why not now?

Take care of yourself - happily


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