Dying and the Black Dog

People who are dying don’t just have to deal with the fact that they are dying, they also live with fear, (sometimes relentless) pain, discomfort, loss of autonomy, inability to do the things they love, etc. To make matters worse, many also have the dreaded black dog to contend with… depression.

We need to be mindful of this. As it is, the dying know that those who love them are already worried, scared, and dealing with anticipatory grief and likely wouldn’t want to add to their concerns by admitting that they are depressed. In fact, they may not even be aware that they are.

An interesting article from the The National Center for Biotechnology Information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1291326/


“Advanced disease increases the likelihood of depression. The more symptoms of dying the patients are experiencing—such as dyspnea, nausea, bowel problems, bladder problems, and skin problems—the more likely they will feel depressed.”

“The medical literature suggests that the incidence of major depression in terminally ill patients ranges from 25% to 77%. Depression is both associated with intense suffering and a cause of intense suffering. Yet, it is not inevitable. It is treatable in many cases, and early treatment is more effective than late treatment. Early treatment is, of course, dependent on early recognition of the problem; all too often, physicians wait until the last weeks of a dying patient’s life to decide to address the depression. By this point, it is generally too late.”

To find a support group near you, contact The South African Depression and Anxiety Group: https://www.sadag.org/.