67TAB FOUR | TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF patient guide
Symptoms of clinical depression are:
• Ongoing sad or “empty” mood for most of the day
• Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities most of the time
• Major weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain
• Being “slowed down” or restless and agitated almost every day, enough for others to notice
• Extreme tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy
• Trouble sleeping with early waking, sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
• Trouble focusing thoughts, remembering or making decisions
• Feeling guilty, worthless or helpless
• Frequent thoughts of death or suicide (not just fear of death), suicide plans or attempts
Keep in mind that some of these symptoms, such as weight changes, fatigue or even forgetfulness can be caused by
cancer treatment. But if ﬁve or more of these symptoms happen nearly every day for two weeks or more, or are severe
enough to interfere with normal activities, encourage the person you are caring for to be checked for clinical depression
by a qualiﬁed health or mental health professional. If your loved one tries to hurt him- or herself, or has a plan to do so,
get help right away.
What to do:
• Encourage the depressed person to continue treatment until symptoms improve, or to talk
to the doctor about different treatment if there is no improvement after two or three weeks.
• Promote physical activity, especially mild exercise such as daily walks.
• Help make appointments for mental health treatment, if needed.
• Provide transportation for treatment, if needed.
• Engage your loved one in conversation and other activities they enjoy.
• Realize that negative thinking is one of the symptoms of depression and should get better
• Reassure your loved one that with time and treatment, he or she will begin to feel better.