Cancer & Depression – Effects, Tests, Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Therapies, Tests

o wonder even the thought of having cancer can make you depressed. Cancer is a really a life threatening disease. However there is no proof that cancer can lead to depression or vice versa.

Although there is no direct link between depression and cancer, the patients diagnosed with cancer experience high level of stress or sadness. Eventually these feelings result in depression.

Effect of Depression on Cancer

Depression can affect the treatment of cancer in patients who have cancer. Patients find it difficult to take active part in treatment as they are depressed and have negative feelings.

It is essential to treat depression in cancerous patients as it can generate more positive results.

Diagnostic Tests for Depression in patients who have cancer

The diagnosis of the depression in patients who have cancer is performed by trained and well qualified psychiatrists.

Doctors usually perform complete physical examination of the depressed patients who have cancer.  Patient is asked several questions associated with medical history and symptoms.

  • Physical Assessment
  • Thorough evaluation of symptoms
  • Standardized questionnaires
  • Blood tests for TSH and thyroxin levels for excluding hypothyroidism
  • Basic electrolytes and serum calcium for ruling out metabolic disturbances
  • Full blood count including ESR for ruling out a systemic infection

Signs and Symptoms of Depression in patients who have cancer

  • Feeling of sadness
  • Mood Disorders
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness
  • Feeling irritable or restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
  • Feeling tired frequently
  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of appetite
  • Suicidal tendency

Treatment of depression in people who have cancer

Psychiatrists need to treat depression in cancer patients after careful evaluation. As some of the antidepressants cause various side effects so doctors need to find the drugs that produces maximum benefits with least side effects in patients.

There are various therapies used by psychiatrists for treating depression in cancer patients.

  • Medications like antidepressants and antipsychotic medication

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy/ Psychotherapy/ or talk therapy that inculcates the positive attitude and behaviours in the patients
  • Physical exercise
  • Support from families/friends

Other therapies for treating depression in cancer patients

  • Psycho education where patients are made to understand their illness and ways of its treatment
  • Stress management training that involves training the patients to cope up with various stressful situations
  • Problem-solving therapy that assist in identifying the problems and learning ways for solving them.
  •  Support group where patients can express their emotions freely
  • Coping Skills for taking care of depression and cancer treatment

Common Tips for treating depression in cancer patients

  • Maintain strict regimen of taking medications
  • Maintain proper sleeping habits
  • Get engage in socialising activities
  • Take interest in pleasurable activities
  • Exercise regularly and remain physical active
  • Minimize use of alcohol and other illegal drugs
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Express feelings to close friends and family
  • Quit smoking