Feelings of grief and sadness may follow the news that your cancer has returned or progressed, and it is important to be wary of signs of depression. Depression can make your life miserable, amplify your symptoms or even lead to a desire to die.
Possible signs of depression include ongoing despair and feelings of sadness or hopelessness that dramatically affect your ability to get on with things. In this case, you may need a health professional to help you get back on track.
The people who care about you can sometimes see things you cannot. If they are worried about your state of mind and can see you are struggling with everyday life, it may be the cue for you to seek professional advice.
Depression is often under-diagnosed in people with advanced cancer, so if you feel you are sliding down that slope, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. They are able to assess how you are feeling and suggest appropriate medications or counselling. Use the emotional assessment guide to further discuss depression with your doctor.
Psychotherapy (group or individual counselling) works well on depression in some people with advanced cancer, and can increase self-esteem and satisfaction with life. Your doctor, nurse or social worker may be able to recommend programs or groups in your area.
Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.Last updated 30 August 2015