Published: Mar. 28, 2007
Updated: Aug. 22, 2011
We've all had times in our lives when we have felt "blue" or "down in the dumps," but fortunately, this is usually a short-term problem. For some people, however, these feelings of low mood can be a symptom of a medical illness called depression.
When someone is sad, discouraged, pessimistic, or even despairing for several weeks or months, and these feelings interfere with being able to do the things one normally does on a daily basis, that person may be suffering from clinical depression.
Along with the feelings just mentioned, other symptoms of depression include:
A person who is depressed cannot just try harder to make the depression go away. And if the depressed person also has cancer, he or she will have problems coping with the illness, treatment, and the impact is has on their life.
That's why it is very important to let your health care provider know if you are experiencing these depressive symptoms. Sometimes depression is a side effect of some medicines or is caused by the chemical imbalance due to cancer. A change in medical treatment may help resolve the depression.
Although some depression is a normal response to the stresses and uncertainty that go along with cancer, it is not true that all cancer patients suffer from clinical depression.
Depression may require separate treatment along with the cancer. The good news is that effective treatment is readily available.
This article is intended as a resource for patients receiving their cancer care at Duke University Hospital or Duke Clinic. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice from your health care team. If your doctor’s instructions differ from the information in this article, please talk with your doctor before making any changes.
Source: Cancer Patient Education Program, approved Duke Patient / Family Education Committee. 9/03