About 6.7% of the population in the United States has depression and it can have an impact on long-term outcomes when a blood cancer diagnosis is layered on. Multiple myeloma patients who are dealing with depression when diagnosed don’t live as long as other myeloma patients, according to a new study.
A group of Japanese myeloma researchers analyzed 255 myeloma patients, 83 of which had depression. Patient groups were based on depressive symptoms assessed before starting cancer treatment and one month later. Patients were broken into four groups:
- New occurrence of depression (19 patients)
- In “remission” from depression (38 patients)
- Persistent depression (26 patients)
- No depression (172 patients)
The overall survival of myeloma patients without depression was significantly increased compared to patients with depression. The risk of death was 3 times higher in the “remission” from depression group and 2 times higher in the persistent depression group compared to the no depression group. Risk of death was not significantly greater in the new occurrence group compared with the no depression group.
The authors conclude that for myeloma patients and those with other blood cancers, the group with depression at baseline had a poorer survival, both in the group that remained depressive and the group that recovered from depressive symptoms.
Having myeloma alone can be hard enough. If you are suffering from depression along with your myeloma, here are 5 ideas to help:
- Obtain professional help. Depression occurs for many reasons and is a medical condition. Consult with medical professionals who will be able to provide the right services that could include therapy, nutrition recommendations, counseling, medication, or other forms of treatment.
- Utilize a social worker. Many facilities have social workers that are available for myeloma patients or know where patients can obtain free help.
- Let your myeloma doctor know. Your myeloma doc can help you more with a full set of information. While they won’t be an expert on the brain, they will be able to manage your myeloma in context of your other conditions.
- Get moving and go outside. Being active and outdoors can be healing. Take 30 minutes to go outside – walk, run, bike, swim, dance, do yoga or whatever activity you enjoy that is sustainable. In winter months, you may consider using a seasonal light and find indoor activities that you can do at a local rec center or gym.
- Learn how other patients deal. We asked other patients how they cope with the mind game of multiple myeloma. They understand what you are going through. Learn from their great suggestions here.