Overcoming depression

Staying active is a good way to reduce stress and your risk of depression. Talk to your doctor about the kinds of exercise that are right for you. As long as you don’t overdo it, exercise can help you feel better and have more energy during and after treatment. You can also reduce the pain and nausea that some cancer treatments cause by learning skills to help you relax. Many relaxation methods can be learned from DVDs, videos, CDs, or books, but training by a mental health professional often works best.

If depression lasts more than a couple of weeks, talk to your doctor. What doctors call clinical depression has a number of symptoms. These include:

  • Lack of interest in sex or other things that usually give you pleasure
  • Being unable to feel pleasure at all
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in eating habits (don’t count those that are due to chemo or cancer treatment)
  • Fatigue or tiredness (don’t count tiredness from your cancer treatment)
  • Trouble focusing your thoughts
  • Feeling worthless and hopeless

Depression can be treated with medicine and sometimes other methods that may improve your sleep, appetite, energy, and ability to feel pleasure. In turn, this can help your self-esteem and desire for sex. Talk with your doctor if you think you might be depressed.

Keep in mind that some of the newer anti-depressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may cause trouble reaching orgasm. There are measures that can be taken to improve this possible side effect. If this is something that’s a problem for you, talk to your doctor about it. There are other anti-depressants that may not have that effect on you.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: August 19, 2013 Last Revised: August 19, 2013

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