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Symptom Management


Depression is common in patients with a life-threatening disease, and often affects members of the patient's family as well.

Symptoms of depression can include:

Profound sadness, inability to experience joy
Withdrawal from friends, family and associates
Dramatic changes in normal behavior patterns of eating, sleeping, self-care or interacting with others
A feeling that everything is hopeless, nothing is enjoyable and life is not worth living
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
Thoughts of suicide
Alcohol or other drug use

Depression in patients can be related to:

Loss of the ability to function
Other losses, such as troubling change in body image, problems in intimate relationships, etc.
Medications and other medical problems
Pain and other symptoms, such as shortness of breath
Role changes in the family and concerns about being a burden
Limited social and financial support
Spiritual distress

Control of depression is important in alleviating a patient's distress and can include:

Antidepressant medication
Management of pain and other distressing symptoms
The support of spiritual leaders, family, friends and peers found through support groups
Stress and pain management techniques, such as relaxation, guided imagery and distraction


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