Disability News


Finding Hope: Navigating Cancer-Related Depression

Coping with Depression During Cancer Treatment

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a life-altering event that unleashes a flood of emotions – fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, and even depression. Cancer doesn’t just impact you physically, but emotionally and psychologically as well. As the Canadian Cancer Society notes, about 1 in 4 people with cancer have clinical depression.

While feeling scared, grief-stricken, and worried after a cancer diagnosis is completely normal, if those feelings persist and start interfering with your ability to cope, it may be a sign of depression that needs to be addressed. Untreated depression can diminish quality of life and make it harder to find the inner strength needed to fight cancer.

Causes of Depression in Cancer Patients

There are many reasons cancer patients may develop depression:

  • The cancer diagnosis itself is traumatic and forces you to confront your mortality. It disrupts life as you know it and threatens your sense of identity and purpose.
  • Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can have debilitating physical side effects. Some medications can also directly impact brain chemistry.
  • Concerns about burdening loved ones, strained relationships and role changes, and financial stress compound the emotional toll.
  • Pre-existing issues like a history of trauma, abuse, or depression can be retriggered by the cancer experience.

In the words of psychologist Andrew Kneier who worked with cancer patients at UCSF, “Cancer happens to you as a person, not just to your body. You therefore experience it as part of your personal life…The experience of cancer can cause depression because of the various meanings that the illness takes on as a result of the circumstances or psychological background in which it occurred.”

Warning Signs of Clinical Depression

Feeling down about the realities of cancer is expected, but if the following symptoms last for weeks and impair functioning, it may indicate clinical depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, irritable or “empty” mood
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, lethargy, feeling “slowed down”
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (headaches, digestive disorders, chronic pain)

Importance of Treating Depression

Depression is not a sign of weakness. It’s a serious but treatable disorder that no one should have to just “snap out of” on their own. Dr. Kneier emphasizes, “Depression is the exact opposite of what you need: energy and stamina, a vision of a brighter future, hope that inspires and sustains you, and the motivation and commitment to travel through the arduous road of cancer therapy.”

Untreated depression weakens resilience, hampers overall adjustment to cancer, saps the will to live, and compromises the commitment needed to endure difficult treatments. It can cause patients to skip doctor appointments, fail to take medications properly, resort to unhealthy behaviors, withdraw from loved ones, and even refuse potentially life-saving treatments. Getting depression treated is crucial for optimal cancer care.

Strategies to Cope with Depression

  • Express your feelings. Talk to loved ones, join a support group, or keep a journal. Holding in difficult emotions takes a lot of mental energy and can fuel depression.
  • Stay connected. Let friends and family help. Social isolation breeds depression. Accept offers of help and seek out face-to-face support.
  • Focus on self-care. Engage in gentle physical activity, eat nutritious foods, get adequate sleep, avoid alcohol. Self-care builds resilience.
  • Find an outlet. Whether art, music, reading or spending time in nature, make time for healthy activities that replenish you.
  • Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into small ones. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories. It helps counter feelings of powerlessness.
  • Try to find meaning. Reading spiritual texts, speaking to a chaplain, or reflecting on what’s most important can help infuse the cancer experience with meaning and purpose.
  • Consider psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, and other approaches can provide valuable coping tools. Expressing pent up emotions to an objective third party is often cathartic.
  • Talk to your doctor about antidepressants. For moderate to severe depression, medication may be advised to help restore emotional equilibrium, often in tandem with therapy.

The most important thing is not to suffer in silence. As Dr. Kneier says, “Permit yourself to feel what you are feeling, honor your reasons for feeling it, and confide in someone about it. Even writing about these matters in a journal can have a relieving effect.”

With the stress of cancer, some degree of depression is understandable. But if it starts to overwhelm your ability to cope, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare team. You are not alone, and there are many effective ways to alleviate depression so you can focus your energy on healing. Remember, taking care of your emotional health is vital to your overall cancer care plan.

Cancer, Depression and the Loss of the Work Routine

Engaging in a regular work routine offers numerous benefits for physical and mental well-being. The structure and consistency of a daily work schedule provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.

The social interactions that come with most jobs, whether it’s collaborating with colleagues, interacting with customers, or engaging in team-building activities, foster a sense of belonging and connection.

Additionally, the mental stimulation and problem-solving opportunities presented by work keep the brain active and engaged, promoting cognitive health and reducing the risk of age-related mental decline.

But what happens when cancer or depression simply becomes too much – and impacts an individual’s ability to work and maintain a regular routine? The physical symptoms of cancer, such as fatigue, pain, and cognitive issues, can make it challenging to perform job duties effectively. Simultaneously, depression can drain motivation, concentration, and energy levels, further hindering work performance. For many cancer patients, the inability to return to work and engage in their normal daily activities can exacerbate feelings of isolation, worthlessness, and hopelessness.

This disruption in routine and loss of purpose can create a vicious cycle, where the lack of structure and social interaction intensifies depressive symptoms, making it even harder to resume a normal life. As a result, some individuals may struggle to break free from this cycle, feeling increasingly trapped and overwhelmed by their situation. It’s crucial for those affected by cancer and depression to seek support from mental health professionals, employers, and loved ones to help them navigate these challenges and gradually reintegrate into their work and daily routines – and if all fails – turn to their long-term disability carrier for income replacement protection during this time of need.

Even with Cancer, Long-Term Disability Insurance Companies can be Difficult to Deal with

Long-term disability insurance companies, despite their purported commitment to supporting claimants, often prioritize their own financial interests over the well-being of individuals suffering from severe illnesses like cancer or depression.

These for-profit businesses are driven by the bottom line and will often go to great lengths to minimize payouts and terminate benefits prematurely. Even when presented with clear medical evidence and doctor’s recommendations, long-term disability insurers may still choose to deny or discontinue coverage, leaving cancer patients in a desperate and vulnerable position.

Our disability lawyers have seen time and time again that the callous disregard for the physical and emotional toll of cancer treatment is evident when these companies force individuals back into the workforce before they are truly ready, disregarding the advice of the claimant’s own doctors.

This premature return to work can jeopardize the claimant’s recovery and long-term health, as well as exacerbate the psychological distress and financial burden they are already experiencing. Ultimately, the profit-driven nature of long-term disability insurance companies can make an already challenging situation even more difficult for cancer patients seeking the support they desperately need.

Suffer from Cancer or Cancer-Related Depression and Denied Your Long-Term Disability Benefits? Call us now.

If your disability claim has been wrongfully denied for cancer-related depression, it is crucial to seek professional help from experienced disability lawyers. At our law firm, we understand the complexities of how cancer and depression can impact an individual’s ability to work, and we are dedicated to fighting for your right to the benefits you deserve. Don’t let a denied claim prevent you from getting the support you need during this challenging time.

Our Long-Term Disability Lawyers recognize the physical, emotional, and financial toll that cancer and depression can take on your life. We have successfully represented countless clients facing similar situations, and we are here to guide you through the process of securing the disability benefits you are entitled to. By working with our skilled attorneys, you can focus on your recovery and well-being without the added stress of navigating the complex world of disability claims alone.

If you or a loved one is battling cancer and depression and has been denied long-term disability insurance benefits, don’t hesitate to contact our Disability Lawyers today. We offer several convenient ways to schedule your free consultation:

  1. Call us toll-free from anywhere in the country at 1-844-4-DISABILITY.
  2. Send us a confidential email through our website, and we will be happy to explain your long-term disability rights and legal options at no cost.
  3. Fill out any form on our website to inquire about our services.
  4. Chat with us live 24/7, and your discussion will be promptly provided to our intake person, ensuring a swift response.

At our law firm, we are committed to advocating for your rights and helping you secure the disability benefits you need to manage the challenges of cancer and depression. With our experienced team based in Hamilton and serving claimants nationwide, you can trust that you have dedicated allies in your corner, working tirelessly to protect your interests and support your recovery.



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