- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Sexuality, intimacy and cancer
- Overcoming specific challenges
- Sadness and depression
Sadness and depression
Depression is very common in people diagnosed with cancer, but it can be treated. It is natural to feel down at any stage during diagnosis and treatment. Changes to your body can be upsetting and it takes time to adjust. You may find that you have difficulty sleeping, lose interest in activities you used to enjoy, don’t feel like eating, or lack energy. Your energy and desire for sex may also be low.
If you suspect that you, or someone you care for, may be depressed, you can find a depression checklist and helpful information at beyondblue.org.au or call 1300 22 4636. For 24-hour crisis support, call Lifeline 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.
Tips for managing low mood
- Do things that make you feel good, such as watching funny movies, going for a walk or having a massage.
- Get up at the same time every morning, regardless of how tired you feel. Avoid long naps during the day.
- Try to return to activities you enjoyed before you had cancer.
- Be as active as possible. Plan activities for each day such as exercise, spending time with other people, or reading.
- Ask your doctor if your mood change could be related to medicines, hormone changes or another illness. Depression is a common result of low levels of sex hormones.
- If you have continued feelings of depression, tell your doctor, as counselling and/or medicines – even for a short time – may help. Let your doctor know if sex is important to you, as some antidepressants can affect sexual function and libido.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Helena Green, Clinical Sexologist and Counsellor, inSync for Life, WA; Anita Brown-Major, Occupational Therapist, Thrive Rehab, VIC; Karina Campbell, Consumer; Nicole Kinnane, Nurse Consultant, Gynae-oncology Services, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Headway Health and Concord Hospital, NSW; Chris Rivett, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Kath Schubach, Urology Nurse Practitioner, President – Australia and New Zealand Urological Nurses Society (ANZUNS), VIC; Prof Jane Ussher, Chair, Women’s Health Psychology, Translational Health Research Institute (THRI), School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, NSW; Maria Voukelatos, Consumer. We would like to thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.