- Question from Rachel: Can tamoxifen increase a tendency toward depression? I am 5 months post-mastectomy with an excellent prognosis. I had been feeling centered throughout the past months but now, in the past few weeks, I am feeling increasingly depressed.
- Answers - Diane Thompson Although we don't have scientific proof of this, I've heard many patients say that they were feeling fine until they started tamoxifen, or that they started feeling much less depressed after stopping tamoxifen. However, I would NOT encourage anyone to stop his or her tamoxifen for this reason. I would encourage anyone who feels that his or her depression has worsened or started after the tamoxifen to talk to his or her physician. In many cases, I have used an antidepressant in combination with tamoxifen, and patients have improved dramatically and continued on the tamoxifen for its usual duration.
- Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. In the prevention study with tamoxifen vs. placebo (sugar pill) there was no increased risk for depression in women on tamoxifen. The result of this study is that most medical oncologists, including myself, tell women that it is probably not tamoxifen alone that is causing the depression. Instead, depression is probably due to a number of things, including the cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, negative changes in one's self image, and hormonal changes.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Overcoming Depression featured Rosalind Kleban, M.S.W., Diane S. Thompson, M.D., and Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. answering your questions about medication and lifestyle changes that can ease depression along with to put hope, fun, and pleasure back into your life during and after breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2003.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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