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Getting diagnosed with cancer and depression

Receiving the news that you have cancer can be emotionally devastating so it makes sense that everyone who is diagnosed with cancer is depressed… true?

Actually, the statement above is a myth. Although it is “normal” for cancer patients to feel degrees of sadness and anxiousness as they adjust to accompanying changes in their physical health (and appearance for some), not everyone becomes clinically depressed.  Approximately 15 to 25 percent of cancer patients will also meet the criteria for clinical depression or an anxiety disorder; and because of the myth, their clinical depression/anxiety is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.

So how does one distinguish the difference between a stress/grief reaction to a highly stressful event and clinical depression when diagnosed with cancer? Following are the similarities and differences between grief and depression:
Similarities and Differences between Grief and Depression (table) If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of clinical depression or anxiety, talk with your primary care provider about your concerns. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room for immediate assistance.

About Barb Viste-Johnson, MSW, LCSW, CSAC, ICS

Barb Viste-Johnson has experience developing clinical therapy programs for residents of all ages, and has presented on a variety of topics, from depression to adolescent development. She is a licensed clinical social worker through the state of Wisconsin.

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