How is depression treated in people who have cancer?
Depression is diagnosed and treated by a health care provider. Treating depression can help you manage your cancer treatment and improve your overall health. Recovery from depression takes time but treatments are effective.
At present, the most common treatments for depression include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, that helps people change negative thinking styles and behaviors that may contribute to their depression
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a type of antidepressant medication that includes citalopram (Celexa), sertraline (Zoloft), and fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), a type of antidepressant medication similar to SSRI that includes venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).
While currently available depression treatments are generally well tolerated and safe even if you’re being treated for cancer, possible drug interactions and side effects require careful monitoring. Talk with your health care provider about the medications you’re taking as well as other treatment options. For the latest information on medications, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration websiteExternal Link: Please review our disclaimer.. Not everyone responds to treatment the same way. Medications can take several weeks to work, may need to be combined with ongoing talk therapy, or may need to be changed or adjusted to minimize side effects and achieve the best results.
Along with CBT, additional forms of talk therapy have been shown to help people with cancer manage their depression, including4:
- Psychoeducation, which teaches you about your illness and its treatment
- Stress management training, which teaches you different ways to cope with anxiety
- Problem-solving therapy, which can help you identify problems that interfere with your daily life and contribute to depressive symptoms and find ways to solve those problems.
You can also join a support group, which provides an important outlet for sharing the difficult emotions you’re feeling. You can learn how to cope with your depression and your cancer from others who are going through similar experiences.
More information about depression treatments can be found on the NIMH website. If you think you are depressed or know someone who is, don’t lose hope. Seek help for depression.