Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Palliative Care Center

Font Size
A
A
A

End of Life: Coping with Anxiety and Depression

People often assume that those diagnosed with a life-threatening illness will automatically experience depression.

True, people facing a serious illness are more likely than healthy people to suffer depression or anxiety. One study of terminally ill cancer patients, for example, found that at least 17% were clinically depressed. Other research points to even higher numbers of people with terminal illness meeting the criteria for major depression.

Experts point out that it's perfectly natural to feel scared, sad, and anxious about death and the dying process. That's because people are facing something that they've never had to deal with before. But the palliative care team can help them work through these feelings.

True clinical depression, however, goes beyond this usual sadness and anxiety. It's important to understand the difference between this kind of depression and the normal grieving process that occurs for everyone who faces death. Clinical depression is often underdiagnosed, but it should be identified and treated.

Here are some of the signs that you or your loved one may be experiencing clinical depression:

  • You don't feel like doing the activities you normally enjoy, even if they are things you can still physically do.
  • Even when you do participate in things you once enjoyed, you find that you are getting little pleasure out of them.
  • You have major changes in sleeping or eating habits -- sleeping or eating much more, or much less, than usual. (These symptoms can sometimes be the side effects of certain medications or treatments.)
  • You withdraw from your friends and family.
  • You think or talk seriously about suicide.

If you see these signs in a loved one, or find that you're experiencing them yourself, it's important to talk with your doctor or someone else on your care team about them. Get immediate medical help if you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide.

Clinical depression in someone who is dying can be treated.

Antidepressant treatments work just as well in palliative care patients as in the general population. The most effective treatments for clinical depression usually combine short-term psychotherapy with antidepressant medications as needed.

Today on WebMD

Nurse with patient
Article
Grieving father and daughter
Article
 
Computer search
Article
Nurse with patient
Article
 
Nurse with patient
Article
Doctor with patient
Article
 
Nurse talking to older man
Article
A caring hand
Article
 
In hospital with child
Article
Child with grandmother
Article
 
Man comfortable in nursing home
Article
Concerned doctor
Article