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Cancer Health Center

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Depression (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Depression


There are many medical conditions that can cause depression.

Medical conditions that may cause depression include the following:

  • Pain that doesn't go away with treatment.
  • Anemia.
  • Fever.
  • Abnormal levels of calcium, sodium, or potassium in the blood.
  • Not enough vitamin B12 or folate in your diet.
  • Too much or too little thyroid hormone.
  • Too little adrenal hormone.
  • Side effects of certain medicines.

Depression and anxiety are common in patients whose cancer is advanced and can no longer be treated.

Patients whose cancer can no longer be treated often feel depressed and anxious. These feelings can lower the quality of life. Terminally ill patients who are depressed report being troubled about:

Depressed terminally ill patients feel they are "being a burden" even when they don't depend very much on others.

Family members also have a risk of depression.

Anxiety and depression are also common in family members caring for loved ones with cancer. Children are affected when a parent with cancer is depressed and may have emotional and behavioral problems themselves.

Good communication helps. Family members who talk about feelings and solve problems are more likely to have lower levels of anxiety and depression.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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