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Depression/Anxiety following Cancer - Carers UK Forum

Depression/Anxiety following Cancer

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hi, I'm wondering if anyone can help me.
Me and my family have been caring for my mum for about a year now due to her severe depression and anxiety.
My mum has been on hormone tablets as a preventative measure after being treated for breast cancer last year. She started off on Letrozole but then was changed to Exemestane about 5 months ago. All in all she's been on these hormone tablets for about a year.
Since starting the hormone tablets she took an immediate decline in her mental state and has been suffering from severe anxiety and depression. She has been admitted to hospital twice in this time and although has made small improvements, she is still very far away from the person she used to be.
She had a brain scan as there were concerns that her decline could have been due to secondary cancer within the brain but this has since come back all clear.

I'm just wondering if there is anyone else out there who has experienced caring for someone with mental health needs following on from treatment for cancer?
Or if anyone knows of anyone or has any information that could shed some light on what I have been experiencing with my mum?

Any advice would be really appreciated
Charli x
Hello Charli and welcome to the forum.

I'm sorry but I don't have any experience so am probably not the best person to reply to your post ! But I have just 'googled' both drugs you mention and found information on both on the Macmillan Cancer Support website - I had a look at the side effects for both drugs and see that "low mood and behavioural changes" are listed for both. So it would seem quite likely that the drugs are possibly responsible.

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancerinfor ... 6_Anchor_3

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancerinfor ... ozole.aspx

Has your Mum been allocated a Macmillan Nurse ? They, or her oncologist, would be best placed to explain if there is any correlation between her depression and the drugs and, if so, if there is any other drug available that doesn't have the same side effects.
I haven't had that experience but I have had these tablets - aromatase inhibitors/anti-hormone tablets - after breast cancer treatment. There are three that I know of - in fact I got on best with Exemestane - the third is anastrozole. But it's also possible to take Tamoxifen after the menopause, and that is different. It's often given before the menopause. In addition to possibly changing the tablets, can you find out what percentage of value the tablets were held to have for your mother - that is, weighing up all the pros and cons, might she stop taking them? I think you need to talk to an oncologist, but maybe a Macmillan nurse could help.
You may also find this is a discussion on the Breast Cancer forums of the various BC charities, and that might give you some reassurance or guidance??

It may or may not be relevant to the current situation if she had depression before she had the BC - ie, is any depression now 'only' since the BC, or does it predate it? It might be more difficult to treat/manage if she had depression before she was diagnosed, and then the BC just made her depression worse??

In a way, 'anxiety' in general is really a life-long consequence of a cancer diagnosis, and it's difficult to see it otherwise - it really then becomes a question of managing it (eg the fear of recurrence), and that can be easier said than done alas.

It's really sad that having had successful treatment for the cancer, and having a good chance of keeping it at bay now thanks to these drugs, that she is now plagued with a lower quality of life than she deserves, ie, the depression and anxiety. Seems such a shame....when she should be relieved and happy to be clear of cancer and out of treatment.....I do hope this current low state can be countered and emerged from, and her quality of life improved.
Thank you all for your helpful responses :)
We have been in contact with her Oncologist about this a few months ago but I'm thinking it might be time to get back in touch with them now as I'm sure there are more changes that can be made, even if it is just to the amount of the hormone therapy she is able to take.
My mum didn't have depression before this which is why me and my family are so flummoxed that we've seen such a sustained change in her with little response to treatment so far. We have also been toying with the idea that she may be experiencing PTSD as I have read that it can be quite common with women who have been through Breast Cancer.
It's a very difficult situation and often feels very unfair but there's still things we haven't tried so hopefully we find something that works for her soon
Thanks again xxx