Assessment and Diagnosis
Table 1. Suggested Questions for the Assessment of Depressive Symptoms in Adults With Cancera
a Adapted from Roth et al.
|How well are you coping with your cancer? Well? Poorly?
|How are your spirits since diagnosis? During treatment? Down? Blue?
|Do you cry sometimes? How often? Only alone?
|Are there things you still enjoy doing, or have you lost pleasure in things you used to do before you had cancer?
| How does the future look to you? Bright? Black?
|Do you feel you can influence your care, or is your care totally under others' control?
|Do you worry about being a burden to family/friends during cancer treatment?
|Do you feel others might be better off without you?
Physical symptoms (evaluate in the context of cancer-related symptoms)
| Do you have pain that isn't controlled?
| How much time do you spend in bed?
|Do you feel weak? Fatigue easily? Rested after sleep? Any relationship between how you feel and a change in treatment or how you otherwise feel physically?
| How is your sleeping? Trouble going to sleep? Awake early? Often?
|How is your appetite? Food tastes good? Weight loss or gain?
|How is your interest in sex? Extent of sexual activity?
|Do you think or move more slowly than usual?
Organic Mood Syndromes or Mood Syndromes Related to Medical Condition (MSRMC), as they are now referred to in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV), often mimic the mood syndromes in their presentation. The assumption is made (perhaps based on their time course or laboratory data) that an organic or medical factor has a role in the etiology of the syndrome. The DSM-IV suggests that prominent cognitive abnormalities may be accompanying factors and therefore are useful in making the diagnosis. The DSM-IV also highlights profound apathy as a sign of MSRMC. Consideration should be given to obtaining laboratory data to assist in detection of electrolyte or endocrine imbalances or the presence of nutritional deficiencies. Clinical experience suggests that pharmacotherapy is more advantageous than psychotherapy alone in the treatment of depression that is caused by medical factors, particularly if the dosages of the causative agent(s) (i.e., steroids, antibiotics, or other medications) cannot be decreased or discontinued.
Possible Medical Causes of Depressive Symptoms in People With Cancer*
- Uncontrolled pain.[Level of evidence: II]
- Metabolic abnormalities:
- Endocrine abnormalities:
- Medications:[Level of evidence: I][39,40,41];[Level of evidence: II]
- Endogenous and exogenous cytokines, i.e., interferon-alfa and aldesleukin (interleukin-2 [IL-2]).
- Some antibiotics (e.g., amphotericin B).
- Some chemotherapeutic agents (e.g., procarbazine, L-asparaginase).