Anti depressants- Do they make a real difference??

Hi ladies I’ve coped really well with the last 12months all things considered… But I’m feeling really down at the mo. Starting more chemo next wk due to lymph profession at collarbone. My prognosis is grim due to being triple neg + I’m struggling a bit :frowning: having a 20month old is making the whole situation much more sad + at times, unbearable. Was thinking of asking about anti depressants but wondered if they make any difference?? After all we have perfectly good reason to be down + depressed! Your experiences would be great- I’m sure this low will lift soon but if there’s soething that can help at this nightmare time then I’m willing to give it a shot.
Also please let me know if they are ok during chemo
thanks in advance :slight_smile:
tina x

Hello Tina,
Sorry to hear that your having a lot of problems with your bc dx.
I have been very lucky not to have needed to have chemo, juts rads, wle grade 2 bc.
Whilst having treatment I had some family problems added to the bc it all started to get on top of me. My doctor put me on a course of Citalopram 20 mg tabs. I don’t normally take much medication under normal cicrumstances, but I can honestly say that I don’t know how I would have managed over the last 6 months without them.
They have also helped to keep my se’s of my Arimidex tabs to a minimum.
I know it’s not always the way to go for many people, but I feel that taking them has been a great help to me.
I hope things get a lot better for you very soon,

Best wishes,

Isabelle xxx

I can’t talk about anti-d’s with regard to breast cancer, but I did have them 6-7 years ago during a particularly painful episode of my life and they were brilliant. There were things going on in my life that were just too painful to deal with and I couldn’t face them so just ignored them, although they seriously needed my attention. I found Prozac took the edge off things just enough to allow me to get on and do what I needed to do.

You might also find that some of the talking therapies may help, but if you are clinically depressed (chemical imbalance kind of thing) then don’t dismiss chemical assistance.

As an aside, some anti-depressants also have the side-effect of reducing hot flushes, and are often prescribed in low doses as hot flush treatment.

You might want to have a chat with your BCN, with your GP or with the helpline on here to discuss it in more detail, or your treatment centre might have a support service that can also offer talking therapies which could be really useful for you.

Best of luck and hugs,


I have been on Mirtazapine since dx with primary and bone mets in May 2010. Helps me eat and sleep. It’s a personal choice, and I think , like isabelle, that they have helped me manage ses from other drugs(i am on chemo at the mo)
x sarah

Thanks for the replies ladies I’m really struggling these last few days :frowning: I feel like a ticking time bomb + getting confirmation that the cancer has progressed this wk has just hit me hard (although I was expecting it). Starting carboplatin Wednesday, picc line is fitted + ready so I just need to pull myself together + try to enjoy what time I have left.
Will defo speak to gp Monday .+ get some anti d’s they’ve gota be worth a try
tina x

Hi there gingerbud,
they will probably take a few weeks to kick in. Cyber hugs to you
x sarah

Hi Tina, I took an SSRI a few years ago for postnatal depression. Kicked in after about 3 weeks and I became very positive - also no problems stopping them either. Am just about to see GP about possibly taking them again, as have been having hot flushes and low mood since menopausal symptoms kicked in after FEC3 at Christmas and have just read they can help with both these symptoms. BB

Tina - I had post natal depression badly after 1st child, and to a lesser extent with 2 out of other 3… and I was put on anti-depressants on all three occasions. They do take a couple of weeks to kick in, and you won’t notice a dramatic change in mood… but they do help you cope. And sleep - and getting some sleep is such a big thing to help you deal with all the crap you have to deal with.

I have no idea if you can take them during chemo, but you definitely need to ask. If they are not a good idea during chemo, then at least they will be there post-chemo, and in the meantime, your team at the hospital should be able to arrange holistic care for you, whether that’s counselling, or some other therapy, to help you through this. Please don’t keep it bottled up when talking to your medical team - they need to know, so that they can try to help.

Huge hugs - NO ONE could deal with what you are dealing with without assistance, so do not be afraid to ask for help - you deserve all the help you can get.

Sophie xxx

Hi Tina and other posters

I have to admit to getting to wanting something to help too and I do resist medication (or did pre-BC) -in the end I’ve had sleeping tablets (zoplicone) on some nights and just getting 6 good hours of sleep helps me to cope in the day so you could explore that avenue too. These tablets seem to let me be alert at night if I need to be so don’t completely wipe me out like I was worried about and I’m alert in the morning too (just bad taste in mouth) - but it’s lovely to drop off to sleep and not have the depressing sleepless nights I had on some occasions as they really wore me out.

Like others I’ve found “talking therapies” really helpful - as I’ve said to my counsellor, " I feel I can dump everything here in these sessions and not worry about his emotional response" - the rest of my life I’m worrying about impact of my BC on others so it’s a relief to be able to just think about issues of concern to me and this helps alot.

take lots of care - cherish yourself too and hope you find things that help you

Hi tina, I have taken antidepressants for many years, the important thing is finding the right one for you. The ssri are very good but all act differently. Funnily enough the one I resisted was prozac (fluoxetine) and thats the one I have taken for the past 3 years. It gives me energy allows me to feel things and when I say that some of the older antidepressants make you feel numb which is horrible, but with prozac I feel like me only a better me. I took them all through chemo and still take them.In a nutshell yes they do work I always used to feel a failure because I had resorted to them and felt that I wasnt a very strong person. But I feel now that its braver to admit when you need help.Go see your GP> I have read a lot of your posts and I really feel for you I had 3 young children when I was diagnosed and its heartbreaking, but make your child your strength and be determined for your babys sake,its more than likely you will find a chemo that does the trick. Thinking of you love suzan x


I have been on Escitalopram 10mg (an SSRI)ever since my primary diagnosis in 2007. I have had them before for Post Natal depression after my 2nd child and on at least two other occasions and had no trouble coming off then when required. They do help most definitely.

I was very reluctant to take the initially but my GP compared my situation to someone with Diabetes in that it was a chemical imbalance and if I had Diabetes I would take the tablets. This made me feel much better about taking them and they really did help.

Sue x

Another thought - if you are taking Tamoxifen, I have read that you shouldn’t take Prozac (fluoxetine) because it can interfere with how the Tam works. So if you do go to see your GP, ask your BCN for advice about what drugs you should avoid.

Hi there

Just to add my pennyworth to the discussion. Some time back I got very low when caring for my Ma who had had a stroke. I took Citalopram for a while and found that it kicked in quite fast and made life bearable. It may have been the placebo effect that kicked in quickly, but I reckon don’t knock it! Anti-depressants are definitely a help at times when you absolutely know that your mood is getting low. There seems to be a myth that depression is only real depression if there is no apparent cause. But reactive depression is real and painful and needs a remedy, for your own sake and for those around you. I never felt “drugged up” or less aware on the tabs as I had feared, just a happier me who could face the day squarely.

Hope it goes well for you, Gingerbud

Jo x

hi ladies
thanks so much for all your helpful replies + for sharing your experiences. I have seen my gp + she agreed that I should give a.d.'s a try given my difficult circumstances. She prescribed me Citalopram, which several of you gave mentioned + rated positively so I am hopeful they might give me a boost. I started my chemo on weds (carboplatin) so I decided to hold off the a.d’s until the main side effects of the chemo have passed. I made this decision after Reading the lengthy list of side effects relating to citalopram. Have you ladies suffered too much with side effects? I’m a little scared to risk all the (potential) additional side effects when my body is already dealing with a strong chemo regime, steroids etc. Would like to get started on them tho to see if they help make me feel a little better.
Catch 22!! Just wish I’d got the a.d’s sooner and adjusted to them before starting the chemo…
Thanks again for all your support ladies :slight_smile:
love tina xx

Hi Tina,
The SE terrified me after reading the label but got to the point where needed to do something. I didn’t get on with Citalopram (dizziness immediately) but many do and they help with hot flushes (envy) so changed to another one. I have been on it for about 3 weeks and now have begun to have more energy, get out more and the only side effect for me is sleeping all night! I checked with BCN and Pharmacist to check it was safe with Tamoxifen. I wish I had taken it earlier. I am having CBT too which I couldn’t have coped with without the a-d’s. Good luck with chemo. Wendy

Hi Tina,
As I posted earlier, I’ve been on Citalopram about 6 months now and they have been a great help to me. You need to give them time for you to get used to them, it takes about 3 weeks or more to get into your system and then hopefuly you will feel the benifit from them. I felt a bit odd at the beginning, rather a flat feeling , not happy or sad just flat if you understand what I mean. That feeling does wear off after a short while and they are a good help.
I hope they are useful to you, but do give them time to start working properly.

Best Wishes,

Isabelle xxx

PS se’s have been no bother so far, sleeping much better now.

HI Tina

I have had no side effects from the Citalopram, they have just helped. I have taken them through 3 chemo regimes now over the last 4 years without any problems. A word of warning though if you decide to stop taking them, reduce them gradually over a couple of weeks or so, always check with your GP about this. Although they are very small tablets they are powerful things.

Good luck and I hope you manage okay without too many side effects from the chemo or the Citalopram.

Best wishes

Sue x

Can I ask what dose of Prozac people are taking? I’m on 20mgs after having to go back on it after admiting I wsn’t as well as I thought I was.
I sleep (or don’t) very badly, taking ages to get off then waking up every hour. I’m so tired and often have to nap during the day.

Hi gentleninja
On 20mg of prozac. I’ve taken it pre BC and after. No problems with sleeping because of it (Tamoxifen an other issue). I’m good on it, this does just enough to stop the deep troughs of dispair.
Happy Days

Hi gentleninja

I can’t remember what dose I was on when I took it, but I do know it was far too high for me. I felt much better after 6 weeks, but as weeks progressed from then on I started to feel far too woolly to function well, so my GP cut the dose down by half. That was much better for me as it helped with the depression without knocking my head off. We are all individuals and you might find that your dosage needs to be adjusted. Also if you’re taking Tamoxifen, there is a documented interaction with Fluoxetine (Prozac) so you probably should get some advice about which anti-d is most appropriate for you.