Depression in the Oncology Patient
Imagine you are going to the doctor for an annual check-up. No real problems have plagued you over the past year, except a few colds. However, the past few weeks you have been extremely tired. The doctor, being thorough, decides they want some blood work drawn. A day after getting the blood work the phone rings. The doctor wants you to have more blood work done because there has apparently been a mistake with you labs. After the blood work has been drawn the doctor calls you again, and this time you are told that you need to seek follow up with an oncologist because the blood work has revealed what appears to be leukemia. This news can be met with many different feelings. Initially shock and denial are at the forefront, and then followed by sadness or anger, fear, and then depression. Many oncology physicians and nurses are great when it comes to assessing lab work, and physical characteristics of the various cancers, the assessment of the patients psychological health though sometimes goes by the wayside. Many of these patients are excellent at masking there emotional distresses but that does not mean they aren’t there. It becomes essential that nurses become proficient in identifying the signs of depression and educate the patients that this is not rare occurrence and that they need to talk to their healthcare providers about their feelings.
A call to action is necessary to all oncology departments in Western Pennsylvania. After a sampling of 50 patients from various oncology treatment facilities, including, inpatient, outpatient, and physician office visits, only twenty percent of these patients had ever received an adequate evaluation of their mental stress. Depression is an extremely common problem with oncology patients. Unfortunately as stated in a literature review on this topic, “there are no agreed-upon methods on how to assess and classify...