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Posted on December 26 2021


Some people with cancer may experience depression before, during and after cancer treatment. Depression is a type of mood disorder. It can make it harder to cope with cancer treatment. It can also make it harder for you to make decisions about your care. Therefore, identifying and treating depression are important aspects of cancer treatment.


Mood-related symptoms:

  • Feeling downhearted
  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling dazed
  • Feeling worthless


The American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends depression screening. Screening should be done at the time of cancer diagnosis, as well as during and after treatment. Treatment for depression will depend on your symptoms and how often you have them. Although it can be difficult, try to talk openly with your health care team about depression. Talk about the following:

  • Your feelings
  • Specific areas of concern
  • Physical symptoms
  • The impact on your daily life


People with depression usually benefit from specialized treatment. For people with moderate or severe depression, the most effective approach is usually a combination of psychological treatment and medication. For people with mild depression, talking with a mental health professional may be enough to mitigate depressive symptoms.

Psychological treatment: Mental health professionals include licensed counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. They can provide you with tools to improve your coping skills, develop a support system and modify negative thoughts. Options include individual, couples or family therapy, and group therapy.


Why is it important to recognize clinical depression?


Recognizing and diagnosing clinical depression is very important because clinical depression can be treated, regardless of what is happening with your cancer treatment. While not all people with cancer develop clinical depression, about 15% to 20% do. Depression can cause distress, despair and suffering. It can also interfere with a person's ability to complete cancer treatments. These factors can lead to a poorer quality of life with cancer and poorer treatment outcomes.


Physical symptoms:


  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia, which is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Hypersomnia, feeling very sleepy most of the time
  • Sexual problems, such as decreased sexual desire


Controlling pain, restoring sleep, helping with fatigue, exercising, eating well and using relaxation techniques are also important elements in a treatment program for depression in people with cancer. Newer treatments being studied include ultraviolet light therapy and technology using magnetic and mild electrical stimulation. Various integrative medicine techniques, such as yoga, tai chi and exercise, are also being studied.


Keep in mind you’re not alone, remember to remain in contact with your closest friends and family members, this will help your team address your concerns and develop a treatment plan.





  • cancer.net



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