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Chemo-related Depression, Insomnia, and Fatigque

Cancer treatment includes tough therapies; among them include chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These therapeutic procedures cause side effects in almost all patients: psychological, depression, fear, anxiety; and physical, hair loss, fatigue...

However, there are many ways to manage these side effects and ensure that daily life is as normal as possible. The first step is to ask your doctor and nurses all the questions that come to your mind about the adverse reactions of the treatment, even if they seem uncomfortable to you. Talk to your health care provider, and tell him the symptoms you experience and ask if there is a mean of relieving them.

Chemo often causes more adverse reactions than radiotherapy. The most common chemotherapy side effects are connected with the fact that anti-tumor drugs have an action on the cells that multiply rapidly, so the cancer cells, but also healthy cells of the skin, hair, oral mucosa, and bone marrow which produce blood cells. This explains the presence of symptoms such as fatigue and tiredness.

Chemo-related fatigue and tiredness are virtually constant during chemotherapy and in the following days. Their severity varies according to the treatment and may be related to various causes: the cancer itself; the side effects of treatment (nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, anemia...) depression, anxiety and sleep disorders related to fears about the evolution of the disease, financial concerns, and others.

Unlike what some people think, it is not a low percentage of cancer patients who experience depression. It is quite the opposite; most cancer patients suffer some type of depression while struggling with the disease or due the side effects of the treatment (for details, you can see cancereffects). The depression is just more serious in some individuals.

Fatigue and tiredness is almost general in all cancer patients after treatment with chemo and radiation. To reduce these problems, you need to rest and drink plenty of fruits and cruciferous vegetables juice (you may need a juicer for that).

For the sleep problem, taking melatonin (5 mg), along with about 7 bitter apricot kernels (after grinding them), before going to bed can help you sleep up to 7 hours. This works wonders for some cancer patients who had insomnia for years. Remember, both cancer and its treatment deplete your body of magnesium, an important mineral for good mood. You may need to supplement it to your diet. Talk to your oncologist or nutritionist about it.

Once you gain your sleep back, the depression will decrease or completely go away. Also watch what you eat. Refined or processed foods should be avoided. Refined sugar should be considered as an enemy to your health. You can replace it by raw honey.

More info on cancer treatment side effects