when illness leads to depression

February 22, 2009

Should doctors tell it straight to their patients when the prognosis is bad?

Many cancer patients do not get straight talk from doctors, who often think they are doing patients a favor by keeping hope alive.But what happened to my brother-in-law who had just passed away was the other way around. His illness was confirmed a stage 4 lung cancer and he heard it direct from her doctor's mouth without him asking whether he likes to know or not what his real condition was like. Though my sister didn't expect it, she remains firm and positive. But for sure she was so worried on what her husband might feel upon knowing the sad truth.

There is no doubt that the stress of having certain illnesses can trigger depression. According to study, depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness. Serious illness can cause tremendous changes in lifestyle, and limit an individual’s mobility and independence. Chronic illness may make it impossible to pursue the activities one enjoys, and can undermine self-confidence and a sense of hope in the future. It is not surprising, then, that people with chronic illness like cancer diagnosis often experience a certain amount of despair and sadness that may sometimes lead to a higher risk of dying.

It sounds terrible and inappropriate but study says that disclosure of cancer diagnosis has been the norm since 1970s. An overall survey states that 98% of medical practitioners are usually straight with patients when prognosis is bad. However, 48% said they discuss prognosis only with patients who have said they want to know -- either in response to the doctor asking them or by bringing it up themselves.

photo courtesy of yahoo flicker

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