Depression

Key Points

  • Depression is a treatable mood disorder that may be accompanied by physical, behavioral and cognitive symptoms.
  • If depression is prolonged or severe, functioning can be impaired.
  • Depression can increase inflammation and alter some immune system functions, promoting conditions for tumor growth, invasion and metastasis..
  • Many complementary approaches can be helpful for depression.

Common in people with cancer, depression is a treatable mood disorder that may be accompanied by physical, behavioral and cognitive symptoms. If depression is prolonged or severe, functioning can be impaired. “Depression may make it harder to cope with cancer treatment. It may also interfere with your ability to make choices about your care. As a result, identifying and managing depression are important parts of cancer treatment.”1

From The Ecology of Breast Cancer:2

Depression is not only important psychologically but also can increase inflammation and alter some immune system functions.3 This can promote conditions for tumor growth, invasion and metastasis.

Read more

Depression may make it harder to cope with cancer treatment. It may also interfere with your ability to make choices about your care.

Cancer.Net5

Risk Factors for Depression

Individuals with these factors are at a higher risk of developing depression:6

  • Stressful life events and circumstances
  • Parental depression
  • Interpersonal dysfunction
  • Being female
  • Shift work
  • Inflammation

Reducing or removing these risk factors where possible may promote a more effective response to treatment.

Managing Depression

Helpsy Health

Even when people are getting the best of cancer treatment, they often feel like they need more help with organizing their care and managing symptoms and side effects. Helpsy empowers members to take control of their health through a real-time virtual nurse support service. This service is available via mobile devices, a Helpsy website and automated phone calls.

Read more

Many complementary approaches can be helpful for depression. The Society for Integrative Oncology clinical practice guidelines list the following evidence-based integrative therapies for depression:8

Supportive-Expressive Therapy (SET) has also been effective in research studies. SET is a type of group therapy that promotes social support among the group members and encourages them to express emotions and fears related to their disease, focusing on facing and grieving losses.

Integrative Programs, Protocols and Medical Systems

For more information about programs and protocols, see our Integrative Programs and Protocols page.

In addition to complementary/CAM therapies, consider seeing a professional such as a therapist, oncology social worker or oncology navigator to help you explore your stressful situation and identify an approach that is right for you.

Written by Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, and reviewed by Nancy Hepp, MS; most recent update on November 12, 2019.

View All References

More Information

Enter your comments or questions below.

Comments (0)




Allowed tags: <b><i><br>Add a new comment: