A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can bring about fear, sadness, and even depression. Finding the support you need and getting the best possible care can help you manage cancer-related depression.
If you're diagnosed with thyroid cancer and dealing with depression along with your thyroid cancer symptoms, making depression management part of your thyroid cancer treatment plan can help improve your outlook and provide a healthier state of mind.
When a doctor tells you that you have cancer, no matter the type, treatment, or prognosis, it's understandable that you will feel sad, possibly to the point of depression. "In the majority of people that I see, [feeling somewhat sad] is a rather normal response," says Carolyn Messner, DSW, director of education and training at CancerCare in New York.
Often people are caught off-guard by a cancer diagnosis, thinking theirs was simply a benign growth. "We see a cancer diagnosis as a life crisis," says Messner.
For people who used to be very high-energy individuals, the drop in energy level from cancer treatment can cause sadness or depression over the loss of who they were. "It's always put in a context of who is this person, what were they like, and how has this treatment impacted them," says Messner. "The questions people often ask are, 'Will I be okay, will I make it, will I be able to continue the things that give meaning and joy to my life, can I keep working and taking care of my children?’"
Symptoms of Depression
There can be many signs and symptoms of depression in patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer and battling a slew of thyroid cancer symptoms. For instance, people may feel like they're not in control of the situation, says Messner, or that their lives are completely changed forever and will never be the same.
Warning signs of depression in people with thyroid cancer can include:
Feelings of fatigue, wanting to sleep all the time, difficulty concentrating, and feeling sluggish are also signs of depression. But those are also common side effects of thyroid cancer treatment if it requires that you stop taking your thyroid medications and become hypothyroid.
Treatment and management of depression and its symptoms should always be a part of a treatment plan for thyroid cancer, says Messner. Fatigue and other treatment side effects can cause unwanted emotional side effects like depression. "All treatment side effects need to be addressed by the treating health care team," Messner explains.
Some light exercise, playing with your children, or even just accomplishing needed tasks around the house, like dusting or running a load of laundry, can be good ways of managing cancer-related depression symptoms.
Other ideas to manage thyroid cancer-related depression include:
Don't let your fear cause you to sink into depression or for your depression to become so deep that you can't battle thyroid cancer. Recognize that it's okay to be sad, and that those feelings of sadness may lead to depression, but that your treatment team is prepared to help you overcome it.
Last Updated: 09/28/2010