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Thread: How do you deal with depression of loved one as a caregiver?

  1. #1
    Newbie New User
    Join Date
    Nov 2019

    How do you deal with depression of loved one as a caregiver?

    My partner in life (we are not married but have been together for over a decade) has undergone diagnosis, radiation, chemo, surgery(with ostomy) more chemo and now a biopsy has confirmed the colon cancer has spread to the lung. His Dr has a bedside manner that needs work and has told him they consider it incurable at this point. (Why would you tell a patient that?) He needs another scan to determine if there is only one spot or more. He has seen the statistics and feels his time is up. He is depressed and angry and I can only imagine how the news is hitting him. I say something hopeful or positive and he snaps back. I don't ask, trying to make things as normal as possible and he gets mad I don't talk to him and can't cheer him up.

    If you understand his thought process can you help give some insight? If you are a caregiver and have suggestions, I could use some. He just sees all that he has not accomplished and can't now but he is in relatively good health and could easily beat the "stats" especially with additional treatment. I just don't know what to say to him anymore.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Top User Baz10's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Not going into too much detail, I had CRC, have Prostate cancer, not to mention they thought I had lung cancer and did a wedge section which went badly wrong.
    All kind of thoughts go through ones head, but fortunately I do not suffer anxiety, as no amount of worry can change the circumstances.

    One factual experience is a friend Dave had CRC eight years ago, 5 years post surgery and chemo he was given the all clear.
    One month after being cleared he developed lung cancer, in both lungs plus liver.
    He fought that tooth and nail, unfortunately he passed 1 month ago, not from lung cancer which they successfully treated but from liver problems.

    There are no suggestions as to what is right or wrong as we are all different.
    Perhaps try and understand what may be demotivating him, treatment ?, self blame which we have all experienced, not to mention the idiotic doctors opinion and frankly that’s all it is at present his opinion.
    If all else has failed in getting him focussed, perhaps a verbal kick in the butt may shake him out of his current mental state.
    We all have motivators, mine is in my sig, they said it wouldn’t be able to do what I like doing.
    Bugger you was my attitude I will prove you wrong and I did.
    So get him to prove this doctor wrong. And life is worth living.
    whatever anyone suggests, only you know him well enough.
    challenge him to face the future no matter how bleak in his opinion that may be and prove the doctor wrong.
    Theres a challenge he may just respond to.
    Good luck
    Diagnosed stage 3 March 011
    Radical resection April 011
    Restaged 2b April 011.
    12/09 Colonoscopy clear but picked up hospital infection.
    Aorta & femoral arteries occluded.
    Clot buster drugs put me in ICU with internal bleeding. 9 blood units later they got it under control.
    Aortobifemoral surgery 5th May. yughh.
    PET scan indicates clear
    DEXA bone scan clear
    13/5 CT showed "unknown" but no concern from docs.
    Inguinal lymph nodes and severe groin pain.
    Ultrasound and MRI show no nasties. Pheww
    Groin pain and enlarged lymph nodes still there.
    October -still the same pains but under semi control.
    Additional chest CT scan ordered for 11th November prior to surgery.
    Sinus surgery done and dusted.
    July 2014 PSA at 5.10. 2months of antibiotics in case of UTI, jan 2015 PSA at 7.20, 23/08 now 8.2, current 8.1
    Prostate Cancer confirmed Gleason 3+Marginal 4.
    Active surveillance continues.
    PET CT Aug 2017 indicated lung nodule changes
    CT Guided biopsy 7/09
    November 1 Vats Wedge section pathology Glomulated previous infection
    no Cancer.

    Not all's rosy in the garden, but see following.
    Stop grumbling Baz, your still alive and kicking so far.
    Age and illness doesn't define who we are, but more what we are able to do.
    Do what I love doing, when I can until I can't.
    and dodging bullets in the meanwhile, too many bullets at moment.

  3. #3
    Top User mojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Michelle, so sorry to hear about your partners cancer. My husband would get angry at times too and snap at me and that’s usually when I would go outside and mow the yard read a book whatever. He would get angry at life because of his diagnosis. I think it is the helplessness they feel. I think baz is right. Tell him to fight for every piece of life he can get. Prove the doctor wrong. Where there is life there is always hope. And if he needs it maybe he need something for anxiety. Is he sleeping? When you get exhausted things always look worse. I guess the best thing I can tell you is just be there for him when he need you. You are being positive which is a plus. Just knowing that you were there probably helps him quite a bit and usually we push back at people who you love because you know they will be there.Sending you prayers and hope, Sharon

  4. #4
    Moderator Top User Doug K's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Michelle, This is, in many ways, more difficult than having the disease ... the things for the patient are pretty well laid out in front of you. For caregivers, not so much. I think Baz and Mojo have said it all. Reread their comments, don't give up! One thing you can do is take care of yourself. This is a long go, not a sprint. If you walk, run or in some other way exercise, do it, you need to be in top shape for the days ahead. Keep you head up, come back often to share how things are going, to vent or just see how we are doing....

    thinking of you both,

    August 2004 Colonoscopy Clear
    June-July 2013 Abdominal Discomfort Upper Abdomen X-ray, UltraSound, CTScan all clear
    8.23.13 Diagnosed 5cm tumor on rectum wall: adenocarcinoma @age 66
    Aug-Sept2013 Met with Surgeon,Hematologist and Radiation oncologist
    Oct.-Nov.: Xeloda concurrent with radiation: 25 doses
    November CTScan, MRI and surgeon scoped: Tumor gone, scar tissue
    1.6.14 Surgery LAR: Rectum removed, sphincter remains: Pathology: no lymph node,
    Tumor downgraded from Possible T3 to T2
    Feb. - April Chemo:5 FU and Oxilaplatin:6 infusions over 14 weeks
    9.4.14 ColonoscopyClear,CT Clear
    Dec.14 Follow up BlWk +,CEA .9
    Mar.15Follow up BlWk +,CEA .6
    June.15 Follow up BlWk +,CEA .7
    Sept2015Followup BlWk + CEA .7 CTScanClear NED
    Sept2016Followup BlWk + CEA .7 CTScanClear NED
    Sept-Oct2017Followup All clear NED
    Sept-Oct2018CTScan+Clear Bldwk+
    Continue ColoRectal Support Group monthly

  5. #5
    Michelle, my name is Michelle too. My husband was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer end of June, had surgery end of July and has done his 6th treatment of chemo. I completely understand how you feel. Although my husband hasn't really snapped at me, he does get depressed and says he will probably die from this as there is no guarantee it will come back, he says things like this all the time. Every single chemo treatment he says, I can't do this anymore and I often wonder if he will really stop. I try to do the best i can to encourage him but sometimes I feel like he looks and acts like he hates me, like I did something. I have asked him what he would do if the tables were reversed and he says that I am doing everything and he appreciates it. I guess in a way I have my own anger not at him of course but that our lives are different right now, that things have had to stop, that we can't do things like we used to right now, and I get angry and I have no one to tell all this too as i don't want to talk to him about these things. I have friends that take me out but honestly they have no idea what I or he is going through so I don't really tell them my feelings. I wish there were more support groups for caregivers, we have none in our area. I'm sure your partner knows you are doing the best you can and appreciates it very much.

  6. #6
    Hi Michelle.....I was caregiver for my husband during his fight with Lymphoma. I used to wonder how he was taking it. I saw some depression but he lived his life to the fullest to the end. Have you looked into getting another drs. opinion, one that might give hope? I was pretty assertive with the drs. They don’t like to be challenged, mind you. I didn’t care. Even so I could not reason with his general oncologist who actually told him he was cured. I knew he wasn't. My husband basically did not want to talk about it and considered himself cured. Then I found out there was a lymphoma specialist the whole time who was not “practicing” but doing PR work for the hospital. Happy I was not and told him so. Perhaps you could tell him of the depression he is suffering. I was able to find some psychological help for my husband at the hospital. My husband did not want to know anything about his cancer but I studied it. Knowledge is power. (Smile) Is your partner going to a specialist in his cancer? I was lucky to have a husband who remained positive. I often wondered how he did it. Many prayers to you.
    His fight is over. How brave he was. 47 years of love.


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