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Depression

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

Some people find a support group or talking 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 [95-96]. These feelings are common among people with metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones [96].

When the symptoms listed below last longer than 2 weeks, they are signs of clinical depression [96]. Talk to a health care provider or see a therapist if you have:

  • A constant sad mood on most days
  • A loss of pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Poor concentration
  • Nervousness
  • Feeling tired for no reason
  • Change in eating and sleeping habits
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Frequent thoughts of death or a desire to die

Treatment

Depression needs to be treated. Treatment may include:

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

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