Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Depression (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment of Depression

The decision to treat depression depends on how long it has lasted and how much it affects your life.

If you cannot adjust to the cancer diagnosis after a long time and you have lost interest in your usual activities, you may have depression that needs to be treated. Treatment of depression may include medicines, talk therapy, or both.

Recommended Related to Cancer

General Information About Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors

Epidemiology The age-adjusted incidence of carcinoid tumors worldwide is approximately 2 per 100,000 persons.[1,2] The average age at diagnosis is 61.4 years.[3] Carcinoid tumors represent about 0.5% of all newly diagnosed malignancies.[2,3] Anatomy Carcinoid tumors are rare, slow-growing tumors that originate in cells of the diffuse neuroendocrine system. They occur most frequently in tissues derived from the embryonic gut. Foregut tumors, which account for up to 25% of cases, arise...

Read the General Information About Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors article > >

Treatment of major depression usually includes medicine.

It's important to use antidepressants only under the care of a doctor.

Antidepressants help relieve depression and its symptoms. When you are taking antidepressants, it's important that they are used under the care of a doctor. You may be treated with a number of medicines during your cancer care. Some anticancer medicines may not mix safely with certain antidepressants or with certain foods, herbals, or nutritional supplements. It's important to tell your healthcare providers about all the medicines, herbals, and nutritional supplements you are taking, including medicines used as patches on the skin. This can help prevent unwanted reactions.

Many antidepressants take from 3 to 6 weeks to work. Usually, you begin at a low dose that is slowly increased to find the right dose for you. This helps to avoid side effects.

Check with your doctor before you stop taking an antidepressant. You may need to slowly reduce the dose of some types of antidepressants. This is to prevent side effects you may have if you suddenly stop taking the medicine.

There are different types of antidepressants.

Most antidepressants help treat depression by changing the levels of chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain. Nerves use these chemicals to send messages to one another. Increasing the amount of these chemicals helps to improve mood. The different types of antidepressants act on these chemicals in different ways and have different side effects.

Three types of antidepressants are commonly used to treat depression in patients with cancer:

  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): Medicines that increase the brain chemical serotonin.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Medicines that increase the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine.
  • Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants: Medicines that increase the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine.
    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article