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Symptom Management:

Symptom Management

Side Effects of Treatment
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Appetite Loss
Bladder Disturbances
Incontinence - Urinary
Dryness of the Mouth
Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances
Flu-like Syndrome
Hair Loss
Menopausal Symptoms
Nausea & Vomiting
Neurological Disturbances
Spinal Cord Compression
Peritoneal Effusions
Shortness of Breath
Skin Conditions
Sleep Problems (Insomnia/Oversleeping)
Sore Mouth
Bone Metastases
Sexuality Issues
Sexual Dysfunction

Description Many people who have cancer become depressed. Symptoms of depression are varied. You may have felt this way for a week or more. You may not be able to cope with your daily activities or your cancer. You may be feeling at least one of the following:

  • Not worth anything
  • Low in spirits
  • Not enough sleep
  • Less appetite
  • Grouchy
  • Loss of pleasure in life
  • Wanting to be left alone
  • Sadness, crying
  • Sleeping too much
  • More appetite
  • Negative thoughts
  • Increase danger
  • Feeling no good
  • Self-blame or self-criticism (I can’t do anything right.)
  • Death thoughts

Some of these symptoms are because of your cancer and its treatment, but you may also be depressed.

Many things can contribute to the development of depression. These include family history, many losses, many types of medications, and stress.

Learning Needs You and your loved ones need to know:

  • How to recognize depression
  • Why depression may be happening to you
  • Things you can do to help yourself

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Have you felt ‘‘low’’ for more than a week?

2. Have you felt grouchier than normal?

3. Have you reacted more strongly to situations or not reacted at all?

4. Have you cried a lot?

5. Have you had difficulty concentrating or sticking to tasks?

6. Do your loved ones think you are behaving differently?

7. Have you had chronic pain that is not relieved by medication?

Management You can do the following to deal with depression:

  • Make a list of all the medications you take. Show this to your doctor or nurse. Some medicines may have to be stopped.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse what side effects can be caused by the cancer and its treatment. Learn as much as you can to help to manage those side effects.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse for help managing the side effects.
  • Get plenty of rest, and exercise when you feel you have the energy.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Do not try to lose weight at this time. Foods should be good for you and have lots of nutrition. Ask your nurse or dietitian for help if you are having problems with eating.
  • You are not alone. Depression in cancer is common. It does not mean you are weak. Talk about how you are feeling with your doctor or nurse.
  • Avoid alcohol. It can make you depressed.
  • If medications have been ordered for you for depression, take them as directed. Let your doctor or nurse know of any side effects you may be experiencing.


1. As your depression goes away, you should experience:

  • Better sleep patterns
  • A decrease in grouchiness
  • Better focus on tasks
  • Ability to withstand stresses without overreacting
  • Ability to think positively
  • An improvement in mood
  • Enjoyment in living

2. Treatment of depression is not quick. It may take weeks to months to notice improvement. Continue to take your medication.

3. Depression may come back. But knowing what it feels like, you will be able to recognize it.

Empower yourself with information.  Knowledge is power.
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