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Depression, demoralization, and suicidality 

Depression, demoralization, and suicidality
Chapter:
Depression, demoralization, and suicidality
Author(s):

David W. Kissane

and Matthew Doolittle

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199656097.003.0173
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date: 18 April 2021

The development of clinical depression is common during palliative care, adversely affects quality of life and adherence to medical treatments, yet regrettably can pass unrecognized. Screening for distress as the sixth vital sign is therefore highly recommended. Demoralization is another form of distress where the apparent pointlessness of continued life may lead to suicidal thinking. As the mental condition deteriorates, co-morbid states of anxiety, depression, and demoralization become more likely. Rates of suicide are increased with advanced cancer and poor symptom control. Fortunately, combined treatment with medication and counselling is effective in ameliorating depression, demoralization, and suicidality. Meta-analyses of psychotherapy trials confirm clear benefits, with behavioural activation, supportive, interpersonal, and cognitive behavioural therapies all making contributions. Group, couple, and family therapies optimize support for all involved. All members of the multidisciplinary team contribute to the active treatment of depression, demoralization, and the prevention of suicide.

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