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Breast Cancer and Depression

A breast cancer diagnosis can bring a wide range of emotions. You may feel shock, fear, sadness, anger and grief. These feelings are normal.

Some people find joining a support group or talking one-on-one to a counselor or therapist helpful in coping with these feelings.

Learn more about support groups and other types of support.

Learn more about support for people with metastatic breast cancer.

Signs of depression

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can lead to serious depression and severe emotional distress, especially during the first year after diagnosis [123-124]. These feelings are common among people with metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones [124-125].

When the symptoms listed below last longer than 2 weeks, they are signs of clinical depression [124]. Talk to a health care provider or a therapist if you:

  • Feel sad most of the time
  • Have lost pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Have poor concentration
  • Feel nervous
  • Feel tired for no reason
  • Have a change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Withdraw from friends and family
  • Feel hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Have frequent thoughts of death or a desire to die

Treatment for depression

Depression needs to be treated. Treatment may include:

  • Antidepressant medication 
  • Counseling or psychotherapy

Talk with your oncologist before taking any medications for depression. Some can interfere with breast cancer treatments. For example, some antidepressants may interfere with the hormone therapy drug tamoxifen.

Learn more about tamoxifen and antidepressant use.

Susan G. Komen® Support Resources

  • Do you need help? We’re here for you. The Komen Patient Care Center is your trusted, go-to source for timely, accurate breast health and breast cancer information, services and resources. Our navigators offer free, personalized support to patients, caregivers and family members, including education, emotional support, financial assistance, help accessing care and more. Get connected to a Komen navigator by contacting the Breast Care Helpline at 1-877-465-6636 or email to get started. All calls are answered Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m to 7 p.m. ET and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Se habla español.
  • The Komen Breast Cancer and Komen Metastatic (Stage IV) Breast Cancer Facebook groups are places where those with breast cancer and their family and friends can talk with others for friendship and support.
  • Our fact sheets, booklets and other education materials offer additional information.

Updated 03/22/24