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What is depression? What is emotional distress?

Depression is a mood disorder in which persistent feelings of sadness interfere with the ability to participate in normal activities. Depression or emotional distress can adversely affect your ability to participate actively in treatments.

An emotional reaction to prostate cancer is totally normal. This can range from feelings of vulnerability, sadness, and fear of recurrence or death, to more disabling problems such as depression, intense anxiety, or panic. Learn more about depression and stress by watching the video below:

How can I manage depression and emotional distress?

Talk to your healthcare team if you think you are depressed or experiencing emotional distress. If left untreated, depression and anxiety can impact your quality of life. Treating emotional distress is as important as treating your physical body.

There are some treatment options or management strategies for depression or emotional distress:

Talk to family, friends and loved ones

Share what you are feeling with you those around you to feel less alone. Many of the people around you will want to help.

Talk with a counselor, therapist, or social worker

Professional counseling can introduce you to new coping strategies to feel better about yourself and your cancer. Consider finding a therapist with experience working with cancer patients.

Ask your doctor about medications

There are several prescription medications available today that can help you manage your depression.


Move and exercise as much as you can. Research shows that even minimal exercise will help you feel better both physically and emotionally.

Join a support group

Sometimes the best medicine is to talk to someone else who has gone through what you are facing. Many prostate cancer survivors find invaluable information and perspective from others who have “been there”. There are several groups that offer support groups in person, by phone, and online. Find out if there is a group through your local hospital or other agencies in your area. Many times an oncology social worker can direct you to the right resources.