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Fatigue and Depression
All the methods of treating cancer are powerful. Treatment may go on for weeks or months. It may even cause more illness or discomfort than the initial disease. Many people say they feel exhausted and depressed, and unable to concentrate. Fatigue during cancer treatment can be related to a number of causes, such as:
 
  • Not eating
  • Inactivity
  • Low blood counts
  • Depression
  • Poor sleep
  • Medication side effects.
     
If you are experiencing fatigue, it is important for you to raise the issue with your healthcare team. Together, you can decide what is causing the problem, since many of the causes can be treated.
 
Here are some suggestions that may help:
 
  • Talk about your feelings and your fears. Being open about your emotions can make them seem more manageable. Consider talking with your nurse or social worker, who can help you find ways to lessen your worries and fears.
     
  • Become familiar with your treatment, possible side effects, and ways of coping. Being knowledgeable and acting on that knowledge will help you feel more in control. Don't be afraid to talk with your healthcare provider and ask questions.
     
Also, make sure you get enough rest. Some tips for getting enough rest include:
 
  • Take several naps or rest breaks during the day, rather than one long rest
  • Plan your day to include rest breaks
  • Make rest time special with a good book in a comfortable chair or a favorite video with a friend
  • Try easier or shorter versions of your usual activities; don't push yourself to do more than you can manage.
     
Take short walks or get regular exercise, if possible. Some people find this helps to lessen their fatigue and raise their spirits.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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