Depression is a disabling illness that affects about 15 to 25% of cancer patients. Everyone who is diagnosed with cancer will react to the diagnosis in different ways and may not experience serious depression or anxiety.
Sadness and grief are normal reactions to the crises faced during cancer and will be experienced at times by most people. Major depression is not simply sadness, but has common symptoms that can be diagnosed and treated. Just as patients need to be evaluated for depression throughout their treatment, so do family caregivers, who may be an increased risk for depression.
Mild symptoms of depression can be distressing and may be helped with counseling. However when symptoms are intense and long lasting, or when they keep coming back, more intensive treatment is needed.
Symptoms can include feeling sad or empty most of the time, being tearful, losing interest in activities, weight and appetite changes, difficulty sleeping, feeling slowed down or sped up, having no energy, feeling excessively guilty or worthless, having difficulty concentrating or making decisions, or thinking about dying or suicide. Of course, some of these symptoms may be the direct result of your treatment or disease and not due to depression, so you should discuss your concerns with your medical team.
Cancer counseling services at Penn Medicine offer support and information about depression and concerns cancer patients may face as they undergo cancer treatment. Services also include psychological and spiritual counseling.
The Abramson Cancer Center offers psychological and spiritual counseling. For more information about counseling services at the Abramson Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-800-789-PENN or call directly 215-615-0534.
The Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital also offers multiple programs for stress reduction, including psychological counseling, stress and energy management, music therapy, guided imagery, art therapy and spiritual counseling. For more information about counseling services at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-800-789-PENN or call directly 215-829-6466.
The Penn Program for Mindfulness is an evidence-based program that teaches patients how to manage stress with tools taught by qualified instructors. The Penn Program for Mindfulness is available to patients at the Abramson Cancer Center and the Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital.