Feeling down or depressed

Feeling low or depressed after treatment ends is common. Cancer survivors often experience worry, fear of recurrence, or periods of feeling down, for months or even years after treatment.

Some people feel sad or depressed because of the changes that cancer has caused, or because they are frightened about the future. Many people feel disconnected from their life before cancer. They may wonder if they will be able to work again and whether their family will cope if they can’t earn enough money. Sometimes you may feel down for no particular reason.

Support from family and friends, other cancer survivors, or health professionals may help you cope better during these periods.

     — Emma

Learn more about:

Signs of depression

Depression is more than feeling down for a few days. If you have one or more of the following symptoms for a few weeks or more, you should see your general practitioner (GP):

  • feeling very sad and low most of the time
  • loss of interest or pleasure in activities you normally enjoy
  • having negative thoughts about yourself a lot of the time
  • eating more or less than usual
  • unintended weight gain or loss
  • feeling very tired, slowed down or lacking energy most of the time
  • having trouble concentrating
  • loss of interest in sex (low libido)
  • sleep changes or problems, e.g. not being able to fall asleep, waking in the early hours of the morning or sleeping much more than usual
  • feeling restless, agitated, worthless, guilty, anxious or upset
  • having little or reduced motivation
  • being extremely irritable or angry
  • thinking that you are a burden to others
  • wishing you were dead
  • thinking about hurting or killing yourself.

Getting help with depression

Some of these symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling.

Depression generally won’t go away by itself – specific treatment is needed. Treating depression early may mean that you can deal with the problem quickly and avoid symptoms becoming worse.

There are many effective treatments for depression, which don’t necessarily include medicine. Treatment may include therapy provided by a GP, psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor. Some people are able to get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your GP if you are eligible. Call 13 11 20 to see if your local Cancer Council runs a counselling program.

Some people find online programs helpful in dealing with depression and anxiety, for example moodgym, myCompass or Mental Health Online. You can find a list of health and well-being apps at healthdirect.gov.au/health-and-wellbeing-apps.

Beyondblue has information about coping with depression and anxiety. If you’ d like to talkto someone about how you are feeling, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. In addition to getting professional help, these tips on Managing your mood may help.

  — David

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Living Well After Cancer.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in April 2018
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