Myeloma: Dealing with Depression

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Laura Beemiller, oncology social worker, explains that getting diagnosed with myeloma can be extremely challenging for patients and their family members. Looking at options like therapy, supplements, antidepressants, and support groups can help one get the extra boost needed to improve their quality of life. Additionally, Dr. Craig Hofmeister encourages patients to bring family members to appointments so that everyone involved can glimpse a clearer view of the whole picture.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Laura, I want to ask you about—and maybe somebody else has an comment too, maybe the doctors—sometimes the diagnosis of myeloma takes your breath away so much that you become clinically depressed.  Getting help, whether it’s counseling or medication, any thoughts about that? 

Laura Beemiller:

I absolutely have strong opinions on this, but I’m going to go ahead and let the physicians talk first. 

Dr. Hofmeister:

For most patients we see a terribly small snippet of time.  We see a snapshot in that clinic visit, the last thing I want you to do is leave half your family in the lobby.  That is the last thing I want you to do.  I want you to bring every person that can speak for you, that knows anything about you in that room, so I can get as much information as I can about what’s going on because you’d be surprised, especially in Ohio, lot of people are kind of stoic, not always anxious to tell how bad things are. 

Trying to find, especially about mood and depression, sexuality, what’s going on, people don’t want to talk about this very much.  The more that can get brought in so that we can really look at the full quality of life, that is fantastic for us because that deals with the whole patient, and that’s really what we’re supposed to do.  We’re supposed to prolong and improve life. 

And, as far as antidepressants, as far as the groups, as far as cognitive behavioral therapy, as far as vitamin D, supplements, everything else that goes along with quality of life, we want to talk about that.  We want that very much to be involved. 

The last thing I’d want to say is antidepressants.  Myeloma patients that we see, who never were thinking about antidepressants, and were diagnosed and hit a spot, we often talk, okay, what resources do you have available.  And people sometimes get upset with the idea of, uh, I’m not crazy.  Don’t talk about antidepressants.  Don’t talk about that stuff with me.  I wasn’t like that.  We think of psychology and talk therapy, we think of psychiatric medicines, we think of anything out there as another tool to improve quality of life, and we don’t put a value judgment on it.  We utilize anything available to make life better. 

Laura Beemiller:

That’s great, because I think sometimes physicians only see kind of that one piece of it, what am I going to do to treat the disease, but the disease is a big piece of thing.  It’s very holistic, and I think being able to approach—if you’re on all these medications and you’re going in and you’re doing what your doctor says, but you’re going to work and coming home and going to bed, you’re not finding enjoyment in life, why are you doing the treatment?  What quality of life is so, so very imperative when you are going through a disease process. 

If it’s possibly, going to see a counselor, a social worker, going to a support group, whether that’s face to face, online or over the telephone, take your medication.  And again it doesn’t mean that you’re going be on that medication for forever.  This is a huge crisis that you have been hit with out of nowhere, sometimes you need a little bit of help to get over that hump.  It doesn’t mean you’re crazy.  It doesn’t mean that things are going haywire and that oh, my gosh, I’m coo-coo now. 

I think people have this whole image of what it means when you’re on medication and you go and see a counselor.  That’s old school stuff.  This is new school stuff.  It’s to help get through this time in your life, that you need. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on December 20, 2013