Martin talks about his experiences with depression, its impact and how he got support to help cope with it.
A brain tumour diagnosis is a major life event and as a result it is very natural to experience moments when you feel distressed and overwhelmed. However, in some cases, these feelings can linger on for weeks and months. This could be a sign of depression.
Depression is not a sign of weakness and is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Like many physical conditions, depression is an illness which can usually be managed or treated if dealt with appropriately.
It can range from feeling relatively low for a number of weeks with no interest in what you usually enjoy, to having persistent negative thoughts and finding it mentally and physically difficult to take part in your usual daily activities.
If you are affected by a brain tumour and feel you cannot cope with your current situation, you can call The Brain Tumour Charity's Support & Information Line on:
0808 800 0004 (Mon—Fri, 9:00 –17:00)
If you need someone to talk to outside office hours, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123.
Due to the wide range of possible symptoms, some people do not realise that they are depressed. Some of the emotional symptoms of depression include:
Some of the physical symptoms of depression include:
Depression can affect each person differently. However, most people with depression are likely to experience more than one of the above symptoms. If you think you might be depressed, seeking advice from your GP would be a good first step in dealing with depression.
A brain tumour diagnosis can affect a person in a number of ways that could potentially lead to some form of short or long-term depression:
Everything we have built over the years, our expectations, our way of life and our reality, can be threatened instantly by a brain tumour diagnosis. A person, patient or carer, can go from feeling psychologically secure and content with their life to feeling fearful and uncertain. Experiencing such feelings is natural following a brain tumour diagnosis and in some people it could contribute to the onset of depression.
The brain controls all aspects of our personality. In some cases, a growing tumour can press against the structures which regulate mood, causing unusual mood swings and, in some cases, depression.
A brain tumour can cause some forms of physical or cognitive disability which can limit what you are able to do and how you socialise. For example, if you experience difficulty moving around due to a brain tumour, you may leave the house less than you used to, or be unable to do the physical activities you used to enjoy before your diagnosis.
If you are caring for someone with a brain tumour, you may have a lot less time to spend on yourself, seeing friends and doing the things you used to enjoy. You may also have to give up work for a period of time. These would be major changes in anyone's life, affecting their emotional wellbeing in the short or long-term.
These are some self-help techniques some have found helpful in dealing with low mood and mild depression:
If you are affected by a brain tumour you can join The Brain Tumour Charity Facebook support group by visiting:
To find a support group in your local area visit:
The first step in dealing with depression is to recognise and accept the fact that you may be suffering from it. It is important to understand that you can seek help and express how you feel to your loved ones, and your GP exactly what you are going through.
Your GP will suggest the appropriate treatment options for you based on the severity of your condition:
Talking therapies for depression include forms of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling. Your doctor may suggest you try a type of talking therapy if you have moderate depression.
If you suffer from severe depression, your GP may refer you to a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists can offer you emotional support similar to talking therapies, but as qualified doctors, they can prescribe medication such as antidepressants and also refer you to other types of treatment.
There are almost 30 different kinds of antidepressant medication for moderate or severe depression. Antidepressants may cause side effects, but they are usually quite mild. Your doctor or psychiatrist will take into consideration other treatments you may be having for your brain tumour when prescribing you with antidepressants.
Find useful resources and more about depression and brain tumours in the full factsheet.
Find out more about depression and brain tumours in the full factsheet - Clear print version, designed to RNIB guidelines.
Page last reviewed: 06/2016
Next review date: 06/2019
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