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.

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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

Managing Depression

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:6

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 Plans, Protocols and Medical Systems

For more information about plans and protocols, see our Integrative Plans and Protocols page.

Written by Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, and reviewed by Nancy Hepp, MS; most recent update on October 18, 2018.

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