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Depression and cancer

This is a republished version of an article previously published in MJA Open

Cancer is a life-threatening and dreaded illness. Its treatments can have direct organic effects on mood; interactions can occur between antidepressants and chemotherapy agents; and, as patients undergo cancer treatment, they may be debilitated, immunosuppressed, underweight and in pain for considerable periods of time. When active cancer treatment is complete, patients often have to adjust to changes in body function, persistent pain, alterations in role and sense of self, and the possibility of cancer recurrence. All these factors put patients with cancer at increased risk of depression,1,2 which can have consequences including reduced quality of life,3,4 greater risk of cancer mortality5 and higher risk of suicide.6,7 A particular challenge can be persuading a patient to accept treatment for depression at the same time as onerous…