So yesterday many of you were talking about medication for depression. We all agreed that no one should go on or off meds without consulting their doctor. After reading some of the posts I wanted to address the doctor conversation issue. One canser cowgirl wrote that her oncologist said she was not a “candidate” for antidepressant medication. If this was based on some contraindications with her treatment then fine but that was unclear to me. My first reaction was to get my panties in a bunch, which brought up the issue of self-determination. When I had my first surgery I was so NOT self determined (hence my HOT reaction J) and just wanted someone to fix it really FAST. I later regretted that decision. I learned through the many doctors I have fired since then and the many wonderful ones I have found, that I am the boss of me. You are the expert on YOU whether you are a doctor or not. You know how you feel and that should matter to everyone on your team. Advocate for yourself like you would for your child or little sister. I read an article published online by The National Cancer Institute about how physicians and oncologists may not be comfortable prescribing antidepressant meds as it is not their specialty. They do not want to be liable or responsible. There main concern is something else. In a perfect world all doctors would take a holistic approach to health, we all know this amazing place is pretty imperfect. So what does this mean? You and you alone are responsible for your mental health.
What is depression? The Diagnostic Manuel used by doctors (DSM4) includes depression as a diagnosable disorder. The signs and symptoms of depression include:
*Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping
*A dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
*Fatigue and lack of energy
*Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and inappropriate guilt
*Extreme difficulty concentrating
*Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
*Inactivity and withdrawal from usual activities
*Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
*Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
*Lack of pleasure from activities that normally make you happy including sex
*Low self esteem
*Sudden bursts of anger
…. so why as a cancer survivor is this list problematic? Right, because some of these symptoms may be caused by the diagnosis itself and/or the side effects of treatment The best-case scenario is to go to a psychiatrist who specializes or has experience with canser survivors to obtain a script for meds. Pick your peeps carefully. Expect to be heard and responded to…it amazes how many of my clients did not realize they could fire their doctor. If your doctor does not treat you with the respect you deserve, think about finding a different one. I am not saying everyone on your team needs to be singing Kumbaya, just available and responsive. My experience with depression is that the symptoms can mimic other things so it can be hard to know what is ailing you. Check the list above and if you find yourself saying yes more than no, it may be time to go see a mental healthcare professional to explore your options. When people talk they feel better. When I suggest medication to my clients it is usually because their depression is in the way of treatment…meaning that if we cannot get the baseline functioning to a certain level, we will never get to the root of the issues. We continue to deal with the mess that the depressive symptoms create, rather than the original injury.
A cancer diagnosis has an emotional impact no matter what. You have a choice of how you will deal with that. Some people stay so busy not to feel anything. Of course this catches up and your body will MAKE you stop if you do not give it the rest it needs. Some people deny it and their feelings for the sake of their families at the expense of themselves. But then some people like you fabulous creatures, use it as a catalyst to grow, change, explore, get real, get raw, share, evolve and LIVE. J
Thanks for sharing with me.
Your Crazy Sexy Shrink,
Our Crazy Sexy Shrink on Depression Meds
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Posted by cancer cowgirl xo at 6:49 PM