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Sadness and Depression

Having kidney disease can affect how you feel as well as how you think. Learn about the differences in sadness and depression and how you can find the help you need.

People with kidney disease can feel sadness related their health or treatments. You may feel sad when your family is upset and you do not know how to comfort them. You may feel sad if you can't work, your role changes, or aspects of your life become different.


Sadness is common when a person experiences losses and changes in life. Sadness can impact sleeping and eating and decrease a person's ability to concentrate. Some people may temporarily withdraw from social activities and usual patterns or routines. Sadness can increase irritability or impatience with others. It may come and go in waves. For many people, it helps to share how they feel with their family, friends and medical team. Expressing your emotions is one of the best ways to maintain your emotional health.

Depression is different from sadness. It lasts longer and can involve more intense symptoms. Depression can begin to interfere with your ability to live your life in a way that is healthy, enjoyable and meaningful to you. Health changes, medications, illnesses and life stresses can lead to depression. 

If you are unsure about whether you are depressed, you can check out the "Symptoms of Depression" handout. You may also want to talk to a support person your family doctor and kidney care team member about your symptoms. 

Treating depression involves learning about the condition and reaching out to friends, family and professionals. Most people with depression feel a sense of relief when they learn the facts about depression and how common it is. Depression is not a personal weakness, and most importantly, people learn that they are not alone.


Each case of depression is unique, so people may require different methods of treatment. There are a range of treatment options for depression, including counselling, psychological and/or psychiatry services, medications, or a combination. Support from family, friends and self-help groups can also make a big difference.


It is important to note that there are different kinds of medication and therapy for depression, so you can talk with your doctor about the different options available.


There are different forms of counselling available. For example, some people find Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helpful for changing the way they think about life, to see things in a more positive light. Another option is to attend self-help groups of others living with a chronic disease, who have similar experiences, can offer support, and may share helpful tips. 

  • If someone has depression, remember it is an illness and no individual or family member is responsible for the depression. Telling the person to "pull themselves up by their boot straps" or "just think positive" is not useful. Encourage them to talk to a member of their medical team. 
  • Listen and offer support rather than trying to contradict or talk someone out of their feelings.  It is important that you let the person know that it is all right to talk about their feelings and thoughts. Acknowledge that the person's feelings are valid.
  • Ask the person how you can help, such as going with him or her to see their family doctor or a mental health professional.
  • Seek out professional support that will give you and the individual information and solutions

*This content was originally created by BC Cancer and repurposed by BC Renal
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