Depression can affect your ability to cope with simple, everyday things such as sleeping, hygiene, eating, social activities and work.
If you are depressed, it’s impossible to simply "get over it". Well meaning family members or friends will often use this phrase and it's often difficult for people around you to understand how you feel.. Unless someone has been depressed themselves, it is almost impossible for them to understand what it feels like.
Depression is said to be the least noticed symptom in people with cancer. Yet it can be one of the hardest to cope with. GP's and cancer specalists are getting better at recognising and treating depression in people with cancer. But there is still a lot more significant research to be done.
According to CRUK, almost 60% of people with cancer will get depressed. It may happen soon after you are diagnosed, but it is also quite normal to become depressed after finishing treatment.
Depression can be triggered by a number of things. The impact of being diagnosed with cancer is enough to trigger a depressive illness in some people. Changes in hormone levels may contribute to depression in some people so the fact that most of us will have gone into surgical menopause after a total hysterectomy is also a factor.
Also once treatment has ended and you are no longer being seen frequently by your medical team you can sometimes feel lonely and isolated. You no longer have the security of having people looking after you and this can sometimes trigger depression.
It is important to remember that depression is not a sign of failure or an inability to cope. Never feel guilty about feeling depressed or not feeling positive all the time. It can usually be treated successfully and the first step to feeling better is finding appropriate help.
Speak to your GP, who may prescribe an antidepressant to help you. They can take some time before you feel any benefit but you should start to feel some improvement after a couple of weeks. There are different types of antidepressants, and your doctors may need to try more than one to find the type that suits you best.
If you’re very depressed, your GP may refer you to a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.
Macmillan have a very good section on their website about depression and remember that you can always contact them for help and advice. http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Livingwithandaftercancer/Emotionaleffects/Depression.aspx
Remember, you are not alone and you don't have to go through depression on your own. Never be afraid to ask for help.
xx Kaz xx