Is depression normal when you are seriously ill?

The short answer is no. Depression is never normal, regardless of the state of your health. People who have a serious illness will likely have occasional sadness, insomnia, hopelessness or just a down day-but feeling this way over weeks and months should not be thought of as just another side-effect of a serious illness.

If you (or someone you love) are living with a serious illness, and you feel you are depressed, talk to your doctor about it. You may be unaware of how much it is affecting your quality of life. In most cases depression can be treated.

There is alot of research on depression and serious illness-and there is definitely a connection between the two. Studies have shown that people living with illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetes are more likely to experience depression. Depression is also quite common after having a stroke.

People with depression are also more likely to have a serious illness. It is easy to see how this can happen. People suffering from an illness that limits their ability to walk, work or engage in activities they enjoy are more likely to be depressed. In turn, their depression and inactivity puts them at risk for a worse state of health.

Even if your doctor hasn’t noticed that you seem depressed, let him or her know how you feel. Your doctor may not have the expertise to treat you, but can certainly refer you to someone who does.

What you should remember about depression and serious illness:

  1. It is common-you are not alone
  2. It is often unrecognized and under-diagnosed
  3. It can generally be treated with psychotherapy and/or antidepressants
  4. Getting treatment for depression can reduce your pain and fatigue and improve your quality of life

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