Mesothelioma patients and depression: How to fight the blues during and after chemotherapy

Did you know that having cancer, including mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related cancer, can have a negative impact on your emotional health as well as your physical health? Although studies confirmed some people do experience emotional turmoil, there are number of options to help reduce the symptoms.

elderly man being comforted

A recent study by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found patients of mesothelioma don’t just experience damage to their physical health, but also to their mental and emotional health. When mesothelioma is diagnosed, common reactions in both patients and family include, but are not limited to, shock, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, difficulty with concentration, anger and heightened social issues.

According to a publication entitled, “Insomnia, Fatigue, Anxiety, Depression, and Quality of Life of Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy,” written by the Rutgers University College of Nursing, certain treatments for mesothelioma, such as chemotherapy, can also cause some mental health issues, though they’re usually temporary. Examples of this are chemo brain (brain fog caused by chemotherapy), anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and concentration issues.

If you are experiencing or are concerned about any of these symptoms, especially during or after chemotherapy, tell your mesothelioma doctor about them. Your doctor can have you determine whether or not these symptoms are side effects of chemotherapy or stress, and can help you set up a plan to recover from diminished mental health. The following are some of the common symptoms of depression and association conditions.

Signs of Clinical Depression

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Feelings of helplessness and worthlessness
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Appetite loss or overeating
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Digestion issues
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or suicidal attempts
  • Angry outburts
  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyable
  • Issues with thinking, concentrating, and making decisions

Ways to Fight Depression

One of the first ways to start the coping process of depression is telling a loved one about your feelings. Keep in mind that it’s OK to feel emotional turmoil during difficult times, and a loved one may be able to help you cope while you seek out help from your physician.

If you are supporting your loved one through depression and anxiety from mesothelioma, you can encourage them by asking them to be open about their feelings and about your feelings, too, but not forcing them to talk if they’re not ready. You can also help them setting up medical appointments, providing transportation to medical appointments and treatments, and reassuring them that their mental state may improve after proper treatment has been given.


Your physician may prescribe you medication, depending on how severe your symptoms are. The type of medication will depend on how well you respond to each type. You may need to try several different types of medications before you find the right fit. According to Mayo Clinic, each type of anti-depressant medications comes with side effects and some types of medicines will create harsher side effects on one person, whereas another person may have few, if any. The most common types of medications for depression include:

  • SSRIs
  • SNRIs
  • Atypical antidepressants
  • MAOIs
  • Tricyclic antidepressants

Physical Activity

Although physical activity may seem like the last thing on your mind while going through chemotherapy, it has proven benefits in lessening depression symptoms. According to Harvard Health, exercise releases ” “feel-good chemicals” within the body, known as endorphins, which in turn can help battle the blues.

However, it’s crucial that you speak with your doctor before starting any form of exercise. This is especially true for mesothelioma patients or other patients with any type of cancer undergoing treatment.

Maintain a Good Diet

Psychology Today reports that the food you eat can play a role in battling depression. Aiming for food that promote good “gut health” is especially important, while eliminating certain foods that can increase the symptoms of depression. While you should aim for eating a diet with green leafy vegetables, fruit, and lean protein, consider avoiding the following.

  • Any drink or food with aspartame (artificial sweeteners), which has been linked to depression
  • Caffeine and alcohol
  • Processed foods

Additional Help and Resources for Mesothelioma Victims

If you suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for a large amount of compensation. Currently, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more.

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