- Question from Sally: Since my diagnosis, I often get very strong startle responses to ordinary things. I am also often very irritable and "edgy." I can't seem to handle the daily stresses of life. Is this normal and what can I do about it?
- Answers - Mitch Golant I think it's back to a little of what Roz was saying earlier, that tapped out feeling that diagnosis and treatment of cancer is a multiple, traumatic event. As said earlier, there's the diagnosis, the treatment, the side effects of treatment, and recurrences or threat of recurrences, all of which are distressing. You are describing a stress response to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Receiving support, counseling, therapy, or joining a support group may help. But you probably would also want to talk to your doctor about any potential anxiety or depression.
I think that we have omitted something very important. While we both agree that all of the emotions mentioned tonight are not only normal but to be expected, among the many things that can be helpful such as therapy and support groups we've neglected to mention the appropriate use of medication. In many cases, either antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can be very helpful. One of the more eminent oncologists at my center has often suggested that we put Prozac in candy dishes in the waiting room!
Editor's Note: If you are taking tamoxifen, talk to your doctor about which antidepressants are safe for you to take. Some antidepressants -- including Paxil, Wellbutrin (chemical name: bupropion), Prozac (chemical name: fluoxetine), Cymbalta (chemical name: duloxetine), and Zoloft (chemical name: sertraline) -- interfere with the body's ability to convert tamoxifen into its active form, preventing you from getting the full benefit of tamoxifen. For more information, please visit the Tamoxifen page.
- Mitch Golant Actually, a side effect of the treatments of cancer themselves may create the anxiety or depression, so treating it medically is incredibly important, at least to investigate.
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