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Depression in Cancer Patients: Where Cancer and Depression Meet

Where Cancer and Depression Meet


People with cancer, and even their family members, often fall into feelings of depression. That's pretty understandable given the thoughts of amazing dreams and bright futures that are now at stake.

These feelings of depression can be temporary. However, they become a cause for concern when they make living unbearable and disrupt the individual's daily function.

But the relationship between cancer and depression isn't merely a feeling. Studies show that depression and anxiety may lead to cancer, and vice versa.


The Link between Cancer and Depression

Once cancer engages the immune system, the brain is forced to focus on fighting the disease and conserve energy. By so doing, brain processing speed slows down, and the patient may fall into depression.

On the other hand, depression and anxiety are associated with an increased risk of cancer. Furthermore, these mental health issues also increase cancer patients' mortality rate.

One disease alone is terrible enough. For cancer and depression to coexist is nothing anyone would wish for. Sadly, these things happen.

And quite notably, major/clinical depression makes it hard for cancer patients to follow up with their treatment plans. With a feeling of despair and hopelessness, some see no reason why they should go on.


What to Do

About 1 in 4 cancer patients will have depression, but it can be managed. It all depends on early detection and intervention.

Therefore, family and friends of cancer patients should watch out for signs of major depression and encourage them to get help or do so on their behalf.

Also, note that anxiety symptoms usually go together with depression, so you should watch out for the following:


How to Manage Depression in Cancer Patients

Managing depression is virtually the same whether or not the person has cancer. It could be through medication or counseling, or both. Sometimes, specialized treatment options can also be employed depending on the severity of the condition.

Managing depression is important as it can reduce suffering in the individual and help them live a well-fulfilling life despite their challenges.

Here are some things you can do if you feel depressed while living with cancer:


How Family Members Can Offer Support

It's essential to listen carefully to what your loved one going through cancer and depression is facing. Try to listen without judgment. But never force them to talk if they don't feel like it.


Even when you have cancer and depression, you can still live a better life and impact others. Never forget that. There's help waiting.

Get help today.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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