What are the signs I may have depression and not just “a case of the blues?”

If you think you may be suffering from depression, consider the depression checklist below. You may want to go over the list with a trusted adult or friend.

  • Feeling deep sadness or hopelessness.
  • Lack of energy. This may be difficult to evaluate if you are currently undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in activities that once excited the teen.
  • Anxiety and panic.
  • Turmoil, worry and irritability. You may find yourself lashing out in anger because of the stress you are under.
  • Difficulty organizing, concentrating or remembering.
  • Negative views of life and the world.
  • Feeling worthless, guilty, stupid, ugly or bad.
  • Drastic changes in appetite or weight not related to your cancer or cancer treatment.
  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep or sleeping too much. This may be difficult to evaluate if you are currently undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Sluggishness that causes you to speak and move in “slow motion.”
  • Avoiding and withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Restlessness that causes you to be fidgety or act up in class.
  • Self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should speak with a trusted adult at once—this can be a parent or legal guardian, other family member or teacher or counselor at school. Your doctor or nurse can help you get the help you need and provide you with the support necessary to relieve your symptoms.

I have been feeling weird since I found out I have cancer. What should I do?

It is very normal to feel not quite “yourself” after finding out you have cancer. You may feel anxious, scared, angry, sad or even numb at times. You may feel each of these emotions all at once or at different times.

The important thing to know is that you are not alone. At CHOC Children’s, we’ve been treating teens and young adults with cancer for almost 50 years. You can talk to anyone on your healthcare team at any time about the feelings you are having and can provide you with tools for coping with your diagnosis and your emotions.