Stress and depression commonly seen in patients on organ wait list, say experts

Stress, anxiety and depression are common prolonged factors seen in such cases. Reasons behind stress may include fear of dying, financial insecurity, worrying about family members, undergoing constant hospitalisation, prolonged medication etc

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Organ transplant is often the last resort for those at the last stage of organ disease. Be it the heart, lungs, kidneys or the liver; an organ recipient on the wait list, and his family, wait with bated breath until the telephone rings informing them that a perfect match donor has been identified.

The long journey to receive an organ sometimes makes recipients mentally vulnerable, discouraged, and often feeling like a burden upon their loved ones. Patients on the wait list have no idea when a donor organ will be available, and on occasions, they have to wait for weeks or even years.

Mumbai-based clinical psychologist Arti Shroff said, “Depressive disorders and anxiety is most common in these cases. They may experience a sense of fear and dread towards the future and develop a negative attitude towards life. Many factors may contribute to the problem such as financial strain, interference in work and social life as a result of their illness and apprehension about family members. In such cases help from a mental health professional as well as the patients immediate social and family network is of utmost important. The best mode of treatment for the depression and anxiety is cognitive behavior therapy and existential therapy.”

“They suffer from anxiety disorders and sleep issues. We have to keep counseling them regularly. Tell them and the family members to stray positive. We encourage the family members as if the family members themselves have a lot of negativity. Then, that really can be a bad thing for the patient. Family members should be positive and we advise regular counseling for these patients. Medication is advised in severe cases,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, practising psychiatrist in Mumbai.

Dr Kedar Tilwe, Consultant Psychiatrist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi – A Fortis Network Hospital, “The uncertainty of the waiting period, risk associated with the actual surgery and possibility of post-operative complications can be a source of significant emotional distress. There is a need to tackle this distress at the earliest as it can have a bearing over the recovery of the patient”.

 In India, over 1 lakh recipients are waiting for organs today, with barely around 15,000 donors who have consented to donate their organs. Subsequent treatment must be provided to those waiting for a transplant to help them deal with the ordeal and lower stress and anxiety that comes along with it.

“During the waiting period patients may need expert help as well as extensive family and social support. We have in our team psychologists and psychiatrists to help cope, we have also created self-help groups for recipients so that we can provide full support during the period before and after transplantation”, said Dr Rakesh Rai, senior consultant hpb & transplant surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.