Archive for October 2017

Dealing with Depression During End-of-Life Care

Posted on Oct 12, 2017

Most people are vastly under-educated about the effects and scope of depression. Every year, more than 350 million people are thought to be affected by depression. The causes of depression are just as wide-ranging as the types of people it affects. No one, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic level, or genetic history, is invulnerable when it comes to depression. One demographic that is particularly susceptible to depression is the terminally ill.

Dealing with grief is a ubiquitous experience during the final stages of life. However, this grief can easily turn into clinical depression if left unchecked. Thankfully, depression is a treatable condition, even in terminally ill patients.

The first step to treating depression in terminally ill patients is recognizing the symptoms. These symptoms are very similar to symptoms found in non-terminally ill patients. If you think your loved one is experiencing or may be on the verge of experiencing depression, look for changes in their mood, sleeping, appetite, weight, behavior, and cognition.

It’s important to remember that these changes can be caused by a myriad of other factors, so be sure to check with the attending physician before sounding the alarms.

Once depression has been identified as the root cause of these changes, there are several treatment options available. Medication and counseling are the two primary treatment options for depression. The hospice chaplain and bereavement consoler will be a fantastic resource for any hospice patients experiencing depression.

These counseling services are also available to the family of the patient, because depression doesn’t just affect the patient. Seeing your loved one go through the last stages of life and coping with their impending death can take a real toll on family members. This is why family members also need to vigilant to be spot depression.  

Look for Symptoms Instead of Stages

Posted on Oct 07, 2017

When people think about dealing with the loss of a loved one, most people will consider the five stages of grief at some point. This system was created by a Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969. In her ground-breaking book, On Death and Dying, the world was first introduced to the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. For almost 50 years, this has been the gold standard for dealing with grief. However, some grief experts are starting to move away from this model.

While the five stages have been incredibly helpful for people experiencing loss, the method has become so widespread that people have started to misuse it. The word “stages” suggests that grief is a linear process with a predictable path. There are certainly common emotions and conditions shared by those dealing with a loss, but that doesn’t mean grief will always take the same path.

Instead of trying to figure out what stage you’re in, just be aware of the symptoms of grief and treat them as they come. Grief will affect every aspect of your life, and it’s normal to experience physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms. Knowing what these symptoms look like will help you treat them and ultimately get past them.

Physical Symptoms of Grief

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Weight changes
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Decreased immune system

Emotional Symptoms of Grief

  • Low self-esteem
  • Indecisiveness
  • Negative thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Thinking you are responsible for the loss
  • Nightmares
  • Paranoia
  • Feeling isolated

Spiritual Symptoms of Grief

  • Questioning your beliefs
  • Being angry at God
  • Questioning your purpose
  • Feeling abandoned

These symptoms could very well follow the traditional five stages, but treating symptoms as they come will likely be more helpful than trying to pinpoint which stage you’re at. Use the five stages as a guide, but don’t feel tied to them. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. Grief counseling or support groups can be incredibly helpful.