Volume 14, Issue 4, Winter 2014
Extraordinary Means and Depression at the End of Life
Untreated depression at the end of life may affect treatment and raise ethical concerns. Patients with a major depressive disorder may desire a hastened death, may refuse reasonable and beneficial medical care, or may present with cognitive distortions that hinder their ability to make decisions about care. Treating depression can avert or minimize these problems in many cases. For a patient who does not respond to antidepressant medications and other interventions, however, the unrelieved depression could tip the balance and make additional medical treatments burdensome. In such cases, a proposed medical treatment might be considered extraordinary. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 14.4 (Winter 2014): 697–710.