Depression

Depression

Depression is different from feeling sad. It is more intense, lasts longer and can affect your ability to cope and make decisions.

A cancer diagnosis has an enormous impact on your life. It is normal to feel sad when you have cancer, however if the sadness doesn’t go away there are people that can help.

If you are thinking of suicide or harming yourself, you need to contact someone urgently.

Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 ‚Äčor go to your nearest hospital emergency department for assessment.

Be prepared

Know what to expect

It is common for people with cancer to have times when they feel sad or down. If these feelings get worse or don’t go away, they may be symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • persistent feelings of sadness
  • feeling tired and empty
  • having less interest in people and events
  • sleeping more or having trouble sleeping
  • not enjoying things you used to
  • having trouble thinking or concentrating
  • feeling irritable, hopeless or worthless
  • frequent crying
  • difficulty making  decisions.

Start a symptom diary

Keeping track of your symptoms can help you and your cancer care team to manage them better.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to see if there is a diary they recommend, or use the example provided on this page.

Know who to contact if you have a problem

Ask your doctor or nurse:

  • when you should call for help or advice
  • who you should contact
  • how to contact them (including at night or weekends).

Keep this information where you can easily find it.

Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Managing symptoms

Managing depression

Having depression makes it harder to cope with other symptoms like pain, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. It has a negative impact on your quality of life.

Talk to your doctor and tell them how you are feeling and that you want help. They may refer you to a social worker or clinical psychologist.

You may find that gentle exercise, yoga or meditation can help. 

Severe depression

If your depression continues and is affecting your quality of life, ask for help. You may need to see a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist.

Your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medication. Take any medication as prescribed.

If you are thinking of suicide or harming yourself, you need to contact someone urgently.

Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department for assessment.

Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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