Sertraline and CLL: I started taking anti... - CLL Support

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Sertraline and CLL

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I started taking anti anxiety medicine 3 weeks ago. It is helping with anxiety but I’ve developed lower back pain and believe it’s related. I’m also now wondering if there is any connection between anti depressants and CLL. Will they affect my CLL? Any thoughts welcome. The doctor took all of 5 minutes to prescribe them and didn’t mention my CLL so...


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Hi to my knowledge pre treatment there is no reason not to take antidepressants with CLL. However, if you go into treatment there may be so you would need to keep your specialist informed of all you are taking. I always remind any prescribing doctor of my CLL and my other health problems just incase there are contraindications for further prescribing.

Doesn’t sound like your GP took any time to explore why you are anxious or look at other stand alone or combination treatment options like talking therapies or anxiety management courses. Perhaps you could take this up with them or go to another GP or your specialist if you think this might help.

Kind regards



Steve -

I haven't read anything that says that anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds affect the progression of CLL. Cancer in general significantly increases anxiety and depression, both for cognitive psychological reasons, and due to chemical changes.

Like Ann mentioned, once you're in treatment for CLL, you should expect that such drugs will be scrutinized more carefully because they are processed by the liver and kidneys. There are even relatively inexpensive genetic tests to see if you are a fast or slow metabolizer of such drugs, which could affect you for the better or worse.

I would like to hear from anyone in various CLL therapies how such meds were handled for them. I take low dose Xanax (alprazolam) for anxiety, plus Trintellix (vortioxetine) for depression. I also see a psychiatrist and a psychologist.



I was prescribed Xanax after diagnosis and after two years found I needed a stronger dose.

I decided to get off them completely. It took a month but I won’t take them anymore.

Be careful with these drugs. They are addictive.

Just my 2 cents.


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Steve I take Sertraline as well as a couple of other anti anxiety drugs but the anxiety is not from CLL. It was started long before that and I have had it since my early 20's (and I'm 70 now). I didn't know it was anxiety though but my problem was that at times I just felt like I couldn't get a deep enough breath - like I couldn't breathe. I am a Type A personality and also worry about every single thing - even before I need to. At first when I started the Sertraline it was a godsend for me but then it quit working. My doctor had tried to convince me to start taking something for years but I would always refuse. He finally got me when he said 'well, it's just a quality of life thing' and after I thought about it and dealing with the breathing issue, I started taking it. But I had to keep increasing the dose until finally I was at the maximum level. Each increase worked for a while but then quit working. So I was started on an additional medication along with the Sertraline. I really don't know if that one ever worked very well but I'm still taking it although in a lower dose that I started with. But at my last visit with my PCP he suggested I add an additional one so I agreed to try it and so far that has worked. It is really a quality of life thing now with me. When I would get in one of those situations where I couldn't get a breath, the more I tried the worse it got and the more I tried. My CLL doctor knows about all of the medications that I take and is okay with them but like everyone says, best to consult with your CLL specialist first. Just my 2 cents worth.


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