Together we will beat cancer



7 Mar 2018 16:12

Hi Folks,

How many of you have tried anti-depreessants and have they worked for you?

The reason I ask is that I've been on Duloxetine for years and for me, they work great. I literally cannot hold a negative thought for more than a couple of seconds.

We see evidence on this site of just how many people are in mental distress concerning their cancer or their fear of cancer. I'm wondering if it might be a good idea for doctors to prescribe anti-depressants as a matter of course upon suspicion of a cancer diagnosis, as a prophylactic, just as they prescribe various meds to counter possible side effects such as anti-virals and anti-fungals?

Not only due to the anti-depressants I take but also cognitive impairment and little memory, I don't actually care about having cancer or about the two ostomies that I have or the fact that I've been ill for over 20 years. And I'm not talking about positive thinking as I'm incapable of thinking. I tend to be an observer, reacting to things that are sai, read, seen or heard.

I'd be interested in what the community has to say.


Best Regards



7 Mar 2018 19:46 in response to Taff

Hi taff ... I was on one dulsilupin at night before cancer and when diagnosed my niece who's a nurse asked the Dr about increasing them while waiting for my op ... So Dr said l could have 2 morning afternoon and night for a month . . Well like you nothing fazed me ... Even after op l couldn't stop feeling o.k with the world . . It never made me loose control , just took away the anxiety . . And slowly went back to my one a night after ... 

In my opinion l would love everyone to have a mild one in the run up . . Good thread taff . . It'll be interesting to see other views too .... Chrisie x


7 Mar 2018 22:17 in response to Chriss

Thanks for the reply Chriss, didn't think anone was going to play. Like you, I was never away with the fairies and still had  all my emotions, just couldn't hold a negative thought.

I have a feeling that some, perhaps many people are loathe to try them, thinking they'll become addicted or need them for life. Personally, I intend to take them for life. And I'd rather quality of life with them, than a life of depression/anxiety/fear without them.

And who knows, if enough people are prepared to talk about taking them, some who are not coping at the moment may feel able to ask for them.


7 Mar 2018 22:48 in response to Taff

Hi Taff,

An interesting question. 

I was pretty much cool with my cancer (apart from an understandable concern about the lousy prognosis I was given right) through till a few months after I finished chemo and had been told the cancer had unexpectedly gone dormant. 

At that point I suffered insomnia and anxiety about whether the damned thing had started growing again. A vicious circle as the more tired I got the more anxious I became ...etc.

I was prescribed Mirtazapine once late at night as a combined anti-anxiety and sedative drug. It is primarily used as an anti-depressant, though I was never diagnosed with depression. 




8 Mar 2018 00:12 in response to davek

Just a thought ... maybe if they were called anti stress for us lot , it would take the stigma away ... coz like you I was stressed not depressed ...  Chrissie 


8 Mar 2018 00:25 in response to Chriss

Mine were prescribed for chronic pain. The anti-depressant effect was an added bonus.

Admittedly I had mild depression or was on the brink for many years but that wasn't what I was being treated for.


8 Mar 2018 19:43 in response to Chriss

lol maybe but my GP agreed that I wasn't depressed.

The NHS describes PTSD as "Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events........... They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult." 

Frankly, you'd be inhuman if having a stage 4 diagnosis and a lousy prognosis didn't affect your Mental Health in one way or another. 

"You should be happy - you could have died!" doesn't help either Wink 

Sometimes a label helps. I just try to get on with living and put the cancer towards the back of my mind. As Alexi Sayle's character Bobby Chariot (warm up act to the stars) put it ... "I'm on pills for me nerves!". 

Thanks to everyone for sharing Happy



9 Mar 2018 03:01 in response to Taff


Hi Taff,

This is a very interesting question.  So many people see a stigma attached to anti-depressants and I agree with Chris that if the name were changed it might help to remove this.

I was plagued by hot flushes by day and cold sweats by night right from the start of my diagnosis. My breast care nurse said that she had experience of Venlafaxine helping many other ladies with this. I was reluctant to take it because it is an anti-depressant, but felt that I had to try something, as the flushes were frequent and very embarrassing. I confess that I was feeling pretty low at the time, but would never have classed myself as depressed.

I felt such a difference when I started on this and had 8 years of suffering only mildly, whilst I was on Tamoxifen and then Letrozole.  I halved the amount of Venlafaxine about 3 years ago and my troubles didn’t get any worse.

The bother has come back with a vengeance since I stopped taking Letrozole, but I am reluctant to stop taking Venlafaxine, as my mood has been so much better since I started taking it. I can appreciate that it is not a good thing to be on for too long. I feel that I will have to try and come off it now, as it isn’t working for the purpose I was given it any longer. I am currently getting a third cancer checked out and am hoping to wean myself off it after that.

My main concern in giving it to all cancer patients would be the number of people who would become addicted to them and the overall cost to our already over burdened NHS.

Kind regards,

Jolamine xx



9 Mar 2018 09:13 in response to Taff

Hi taff

sadly my mum died a few weeks ago of pancreatic cancer and I am struggling to come to terms with it-in fact I can’t accept she’s gone.

I agree entirely with your mum was the most outgoing and bubbly person you could meet.however upon diagnosis I believe she went into a complete state of shock then denial and subsequently “withdrew “I faced an uphill battle trying to highlight that I believed she was depressed. She had a number of dementia tests despite me telling them she was fine before and they said that her loss of appetite and motivation was more than likely due to the type of cancer she mum was  put on a waiting list to see a psychologist but before then her consultant put her on Prozac (over 2 mths after diagnosis and my concerns about her wellbeing)unfortunately she reacted badly to Prozac which again I had to point out these changes in her as once again it was put down to her illness.after almost 3 weeks it was stopped as her sodium levels had dropped (we were told that Prozac can do this and this could account for negative changes she experienced)following routine blood tests.

my mum then had a fast track appt with a psychiatrist due to her wellbeing and ultimately she was assessed with clinical depression as a result of her diagnosis and was prescribed mirtrazipine (sorry re spelling)we were told that this could also aid sleep and stimulate appetite. Sadly this was too late as with all antidepressants at least 3 weeks were needed for it to start to work and my mum had deteriorated further 

i could go on and I’m not looking to blame.i know it wouldn’t have cured her but could have led to a better and longer quality of time with us because if it had the desired effects and her wellbeing had been managed better she may have been able to have chemo

you can always stop taking them but don’t always have the time frame to try different ones and allow them to work


9 Mar 2018 10:07 in response to Jolamine

Hi Jolamine,

It's interesting that you have a reluctance to taking your anti-dpreessant despite the fact that you say it makes you feel better. And also your reluctance to stopping it. For me, that quality of life thing is the important bit, regardless of why I was originally prescribed it.

I'm on permanent slow-release morphine and again, although people have a reluctance to taking opiates because of the addiction, I have no such problem.

The stigma you mention is something I'd hoped to counter by bringing all this into the open. Talking about such things can take away the sting.

Thanks for your input.


9 Mar 2018 10:08 in response to heartstring

Hi there and so sorry on loosing your mum, my heart goes out to you ..

I used to be healthcare assistant in a 're-hab ... one thing l learned pretty quickly was Prozac caused more problems then it solved ... l wouldn't touch strong anti depressants with a barge pole .. just my opinion on my experience working there ..

That's why l took a milder form ... and I'm a bit worried some reading this thread may ask for the strong ones ... please go for the milder ones that have been mentioned on here by us .. 

Since being on tamoxifen , thinking l got away with no side effects , l found my self crying on little things and feel really achy all the time so now back on dulsilupin to stop having that drowning feeling ..

So sorry heartstring for going off course slightly ... and l just wanted to send you a big hug at this time, l remember as if yesterday how those early days of loosing our mum's is like ... so welcome to our little chat room, where you can know, we have gone through all those feelings ...

Taff really glad you started this tread , as I've learned a couple of things l didn't know ... maybe more of these learning and info threads of things will help too ... big hug to all Chrissie xx


9 Mar 2018 10:21 in response to heartstring

My condolences heartstring, on your loss. You're absolutely correct in that anti-depressants take time to have an affect and sometimes a range of them has to be tried before finding the right one. I've previously had to stop taking a different sort because of uncontrollable itching.

This is why I thought it might be a good idea to prescribe them prophylactically, although there's the cost issue that Jolamine mentioned. It seems though that the prevalence of negativity upon diagnosis suggests that we should prescribe regardless.

I was told very early on that, because my cancer is a remitting/relapsing one, they weren't trying to cure me but trying to give me the best quality of life.

I remember the guilt I felt when I had my first pain free period for over 30 years. I thought that I should immediately get a job, though at the time I was so ill I couldn't even wash myself.


Thanks for your input


13 Mar 2018 02:16 in response to Taff


Hi Taff,

I cannot really explain my reluctance to start taking anti-depressants.

I had been taking 600mg of Lyrica for many years for pain previous to this. I had a lot of nasty side-effects to this and, had a terrible experience trying to stop taking them.

I understand that it is not a good idea to take anti-depressants long-term and that the problems with stopping them are similar to the ones I had with Lyrica. You really have to reduce them gradually. I was also aware of the possibility of becoming addicted to them. Like you, I take morphine routinely along with several other drugs and am concerned about what all of these are doing to my insides.

I fully agree that by talking about them, we are likely to eventually reduce the stigma surrounding them and I applaud that.

Kind regards,

Jolamine xx


13 Mar 2018 08:49 in response to Jolamine

Hi everyone,

This is an interesting thread. Especially heartening is that, given our circumstances, so many of us (me included) are worrying over long term effects Happy



13 Mar 2018 10:26 in response to davek

Just to add to the mix - where possible I try to pump up serotonin in natural ways and having an internal narrative with myself e.g. it is natual you feel low you have cancer, don't expect yourself to feel ok all the time (note I am not saying this to anyone else but it is the conversation I have with myself) where this fails and the low/s are effecting my functionioning I take 5 HTP (L-5 hydroxytryptophan) - each to their own but I am very glad my days on citiliapram are over and am saddened by how quickly they (medical profession GP's etc)  are prescribing anti depressents and how frequently without dialogue the dose is increased -