Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

Depression After MPN Diagnosis: What Are Strategies for Coping Emotionally?

Read Transcript

Published on August 23, 2018

The unique challenges patients face from a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) diagnosis, the symptom burden, cost of treatment, or travel, to name a few, can trigger negative feelings of fear, anxiety and depression. How can MPN-related depression be treated? Experts Lindsey Lyle and Bryn Dunham discuss options for both patients and caregivers coping with anxiety or depression, and factors to evaluate before taking anti-depressants. MPN patients Becky and Nelson also share their post-diagnosis experiences and strategies that helped them deal with emotional and psychological distress. Additionally, Oncology Dietician Sommer Gaughan describes an appropriate amount exercise for MPN patients who are in active treatment and how it can benefit mood, digestion and energy levels. Watch now to learn more.

Sponsored by Incyte Corporation. Produced in Partnership with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Featuring

Partners

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

You might also like

Transcript | Depression After MPN Diagnosis: What Are Strategies for Coping Emotionally?

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.

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:

You mentioned the word depression.

Becky:                          

Mm-hmm.

Andrew Schorr:                       

So, where did this come in, and what did you guys do about it?

Becky:                          

My primary doctor prescribed an anti-depressant for me, and I’m still taking it.

Andrew Schorr:                       

And it helps.

Becky:                          

It is helping.

Andrew Schorr:            

Now, Lindsey, is that—we’ll find out more with our social worker but related to depression, I mean, when someone’s diagnosed with a cancer, or any serious chronic condition, and there’s so much uncertainty, anxiety or depression for ourselves or maybe our care giver, is not unusual, right? It can be a trigger. 

Lindsey Lyle:                

Right. It’s definitely not uncommon; especially anxiety around unknown situations is almost expected in a way. And so, there are varying degrees of mood disorders. A lot of times when it’s kind of in this time period of a new diagnosis, or a new treatment, we may call this more of an adjustment disorders, which is feeling sad or anxious about unknown circumstance.  

But you know, as a hematology/oncology PA, I don’t generally like to start patients on anti-depressants if they do qualify for that based on symptoms that they’re experiencing, but I like to work with primary care colleagues, or my psychology team, in order to do this in the best way because I don’t always know the exact best treatment for that. So, it’s a lot of collaboration with other providers as well.

Andrew Schorr:            

So, first of all, pass the mic to Nelson for just a second. Nelson, you heard Becky mention about depression. Is that something you faced? You went from all this uncertainty of other symptoms, and cost, and moving across the country. Did you get down? Because you talked about managing energy, you talked about that. Did you get low psychologically?

Nelson:                        

Actually, I did not. Excuse me. About 24 years ago, I had a panic attack and I didn’t know what that was. And I worked my way out of the panic attack by understanding the mental components to anxiety and mild depression. And basically, I wrote, my PhD is on Mind/Body Medicine, and I wrote about the fight/flight response. And from my own personal experience, the attitude was so important. 

And whenever the fear would come up, I would just see it as a flight response. And so, I decided to go into the fight response. And so, that’s why I’m active today, and I’m positive today, because when you’re in the flight response, you’re just running, you just wanna get away, you wanna get out of your situation desperately. And the fight response is like, “I’m ready, bring it.” 

Andrew Schorr:             

But there is anxiety, depression, Becky talked about it openly. Nelson has his lifelong strategy that’s helped him a lot, but that’s something that needs to be addressed, right?

Bryn Dunham:                            

Absolutely. I think to begin with, to assess whether there is a history of anxiety or depression before the oncology diagnosis is the first step to do an assessment to see what has been in your past, if anything, from the mental health perspective. And then moving forward with how acute the depression and anxiety is.  

I think Lindsey spoke very well to the fact that you have a new diagnosis, your mother has a new diagnosis, your spouse has a new diagnosis, whatever that might be there’s some depression and anxiety that will come with that, but it’s very important to be followed closely to make sure that that anxiety and depression doesn’t overcome you, and you don’t see that you need something beyond that, something more from the pharmaceutical perspective. 

Andrew Schorr:            

I wanna make a pitch for exercise, and I’m sure Nelson you would, and I’m sure Sommer, you would, too. Exercise can be therapeutic, right? Nelson it has been for you. Or just maybe—so, your routine has helped a lot hasn’t it? 

Nelson:                        

Right. I do something every day. Now, there are some days where I do double exercise. Where I’ll go to the gym, I’ll pump some iron, and I only do like a limited routine. I’ve found out that if I give myself plenty of rest in between workouts, my body recovers. So, rest is important, and obviously nutrition, and hydration is so important. It picks me up. I feel like I’m in control. 

And I noticed that my endurance picked up quite a bit. Where after pumping iron, having a real strong session, we went out and walked a little over three miles, with my wife, and my daughter, and my dog. And I felt great. And I could have gone even more, but I was glad I was finished.  

Andrew Schorr:            

If you could pass it back to Sommer. Sommer, I know there have been studies now that show even during active cancer treatment, exercise is energizing even if you walk into it being tired. I can tell you, there were many times I said, “Oh, my God. I can’t go to the gym today, and I’m tired. I’ll skip it.” And I go, and I feel better afterwards.

Sommer Gaughan:        

I agree. I don’t know there are many people that regret it once they do it. It’s just getting out the door sometimes that is really hard. But to speak to your question about during active treatment, we know that exercise of any kind really can protect muscle, and can protect energy, can help with digestion, can help with mood. The benefits of exercise are extensive. 

I really lean more with that protection of the lean body mass, that many people focus on protein for that instead of engaging those muscles. But one point real quick about exercise is it doesn’t have to be vigorous, outside, you know, I tell people when they’re sitting watching TV to do little leg lifts, or little arm lifts, or lift a tomato sauce can. It doesn’t have to be going to the gym if that’s not where your comfort level is, or even where you feel safe. Sometimes being at home feels safer. 

I’ll even tell people to walk every room of their house during a commercial break. That all is cumulative, and it adds up over a day. It doesn’t have to be all at once if that’s not where your energy is.

Andrew Schorr:            

In our programs on Patient Power increasingly do programs on specific issues, diet and exercise as well, and the other day we did a live program and the replay will be available, with a woman named Cathy Skinner who was an NCAA Women’s Volleyball coach. And she did a program where she showed exercises. She’s a cancer exercise specialist now. 

And there are people you can find who will tell you just what Sommer was saying, it’s not where you have to do everything. Don’t do what you can’t do, it’s what you can do, okay? And maybe just sitting in a chair in your living room, a very simple stretch, or very simple lift, and things that just get you moving. And then maybe you can be like Nelson and do much more and get to that point. So, exercise is important. And all of this is good for our head. 

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.

You might also like