My Ovacome
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Advice on anti depressants after treatment

Hi Ladies

I haven’t posted here in a while but still follow everyone’s posts. I finished treatment in June and am lucky enough to be NED (from stage 3c HGSC).

I’ve tried really hard to keep positive and focus on nice stuff since finishing treatment but since October this has been hard. I think this is partly down to being back at work and back in the “normal” world, still needing to find my new normal but everyone waiting for the old me to come back and I do find the uncertainty hard to manage.

December was a tough month with three bereavements, one quite sudden to a friend in her 50s.

I’ve suffered from depression before but managed this with counselling and never taken medication. Yesterday, I went to my GP as I feel the time has come to get some extra help but I felt that my GP was prepared to offer me anything I wanted. We did the depression questionnaire but of course a lot of the questions relate to things that are side effects of treatment and also, it’s hard to know if I’m tired because of work, but either way I passed the test with flying colours and have been prescribed anti depressants.

If I start taking them, she tells me that it will be for six months to a year which suddenly seems like a huge commitment and I’m half wondering if I should go back to my previous method of dealing with it myself (although not sure if I have the energy).

Anyway, I was just wondering if any of you had experience of taking anti depressants after treatment, did they help and how long were you on them?

I know that lots of you are going through really tough times dealing with treatment and recurrence so I feel bad for asking this but given that I’m lucky enough to be NED I feel I have a responsibility to use that wisely and I’m not at the moment.

Thank you!

Andrea xx

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Hi Andrea, I have ppc stage four and like you have suffered from depression in the past. I feel what you are going through, I try and think positive thoughts but it's really hard at time. You can't help but think of the future. I did go and see my GP and she prescribed me amytripaline, it is to help with depression but also helps me sleep. I think they have helped a bit. Wishing you well, Julie xx

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Thank you Julie - you’re right it can be hard to stay positive and keep smiling. But also hard to know when we need a bit of extra help xx

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Hi Andrea. I finished my chemo/surgery/chemo last September but I am now on Avastin for a year. I have been on anti-depressants for a while (before diagnosis) & have taken them all through my treatment. I felt very low after my last chemo, as you say - trying to find a new normal, but knowing things can't be quite the same! I told my Oncologist & my CNS. They were so helpful & caring. They referred me for x3 counselling sessions with a Psychologist who works for 'Maggie's' (very near Oncology Department). It was very helpful BUT I am still battling!!! I'm sure this January weather isn't helping! 😐 I have also made a big decision to 'retire' (at 59), so I need to re-invent myself too! Hope you will benefit from the meds, but other things are good to try too.

Sending hugs & understanding. Linda xx

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Thank you Linda😊 I’ve had support from a local counsellor but might try and get access to a cancer specialist. Good luck with your ongoing treatment and retirement planning xx

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Hello Andrea, I am not there myself but I have heard from a Hospice counsellor and have read that it is common to suffer from depression after the NED declaration. It is that feeling of not being quite 'normal' but you thinking everyone expects you to be your 'old self' (even if they don't). Then there is sometimes a fear that IT will come back. There's lots of psychology to it - and there's the loss of the support you get when on treatment.

There are books about how to cope after treatment ends, and counselling sounds like a good idea, but if your doctor has agreed you need anti-depressants then you shouldn't feel bad about taking them, you've been through Hell so be kind to yourself now.

I can't recall the book on the subject but I know there is one, if I find it I'll post the title.

Good Luck.

Iris x

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Andrea, I've found the title of the book I think might help you, 'The Cancer Survivor's Companion' by Dr. Frances Goodhart & Lucy Atkins.

Iris x

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This book is absolutely brilliant!

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😀🌸

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Hi Andrea.

I think you will find a lot of support and advice here.

I did call Macmillan after I finished chemo. They were very helpful. Felt very low one night. I think it’s after all the treatment has finished and you start to feel a little better physically, that what you’ve been through kicks in.

You are trying to find your way though the unknown. Feeling what the new normal will be. Lots of us have to adapt to new diets and bowel habits. Possibly wearing different clothes.

You feel different because of loosing hair etc.

Mentally we are all over the place.

Everyone expects us to go back to the way we were. But that part of you has gone. I honestly think it takes a year after chemo to begin to feel anywhere near to accepting our new norm.

Try not to be hard on yourself.

Take some time. It’s hard to try and accept our lives have changed. So much for the better in some ways. Try taking little steps. Finding one little positive in each day.

We stop taking things and people for granted. We appreciate all we have.

I’m more emotional now!!

Do talk to your GP. They can give you information about talking therapies.

Don’t be afraid to try medication.

There are lots of new ones that aren’t addictive and low doses can really help.

I’ve yet to speak to anyone in person about OC. Thinking of trying to set up a support group in my area. To socialise. There is one that is held at my hospital but it’s once a month in the afternoon. I work full time so no help to me. It might be worth seeing if there is any group at your hospital.

I do hope you feel better soon. Xx

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Hi Laurel, where do you live? I am in South Lincolnshire, near Spalding but happy to travel to meet for a coffee. Lesley

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Hi Lesley I’m in West Berkshire. I work full time and in a school so I can’t go to any of the groups that are run during the day.

I’ve trying to find out if anyone has started any groups in or around Berkshire but not found any yet.

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Hi Laurel, yes, too far to meet for a cuppa!!!

My only other suggestion is to talk to Ovacome (freephone 0800 008 7054) to see if there are others nearer to you than London. Are you free for the Ovacome Members Day on Saturday March 3rd? That's where I first met others with OC alongside getting top flight speakers and a nice buffet lunch! I do 'plug' Ovacome as am now one of their trustees!!

Hope today is a good day. Warm wishes, Lesley

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Thank you Lesley for the info.

I have just registered for tickets for the Members Day. Maybe there will be a few others from Berkshire there. X

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Brill - we should do as the team is giving those of us who chat here stickers on which to write our 'code names' as well as the fornal badges as an 'attendee'. Not that mine os a code name! L x

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Great idea. It sounds like it will be fun and informative. Thanks for the link. And look forward to seeing you there ! X

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Hi - a few of us have started a meet up in London if you’re near. We all met up through the Target Ovarian Cancer facebook page, someone put up a post and asked if anyone fancied meeting. They also have a list of support groups here targetovariancancer.org.uk/...

Andrea xx

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Thank you.

The one near me is the one I mentioned that is organised by the CSN and is during the day. X

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Hi Andrea,

Lots of sound, warm ideas. I hope I can add something which will help too:-

1. Research shows: (1) 50% having returned to work after cancer find we need to 'move on' into either a different role within the same company/organisation (if this is possible) or we change our jobs and (2) 33% need 'formal' psychological help.

2. Finding someone (friend, neighbour, colleague, family member or external professional) to whom you can talk about the reality of cancer ...actually hearing yourself find your own words to describe your feelings ('rabbit hole running' between despair, fear, anxiety and sheer joy that you are still here!) and logical and illogical thoughts - just to be your 'unabridged self'.

3. Mindfulness; six years ago, as I was finishing my first treatment, I did a course online (cost me £40 then) and it has now been updated (https://www.bemindfulonline.com/), have done more since and currently use two Apps, 'Buddify' (only about £5, I think) and 'Headspace' (free demo 10 sessions but then £74pa) - Headspace does have a section, once you've paid for dealing with cancer. I've only just done the first two of the ten sessions but the principles he shares relate to what I recognise in myself.

4. Think through what is 'Wellbeing' to you...just you. Simply for me, I've got to taking time each day to recognise what matters to me - my work, connections (whoever these maybe), new learning (hobbies etc.), fun, laughter, perhaps trying a new food, new style of clothes etc. This may also mean limiting your time with some people whom you find are 'Drains' (i.e. suck the life out of you) and giving more minutes to those who are 'Radiators' (i.e. generate warm feelings in you)

That's definitely enough so I just endorse everyone else - above all, be kind to yourself, allow yourself time knowing the reality of what you are re-building for a future is where these feelings don't go away, just take less time in each day. Its is almost five years since my recurrence and 6.5 years since diagnosis (stage 3c clear cell|) and neither my husband nor I have lost the 'dread' of it returning despite all these years and months of unexpected joy...part of our 'rabbit-warren racing minds' and why Mindfulness helps us both focus on a balance each day.

Warm wishes for putting yourself first with kindness and compassion. Lesley

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Thank you Lesley - this is all brilliant advice.

That’s an interesting statistic about work, I’m keen to try and carry on as I’d only started my job in Jan 16, eleven months before my diagnosis and it was a return a to a career after raising my family so I’ve felt quite cheated about this being interrupted. Work have been really supportive but nobody is really managing my return as everyone is too busy. So maybe I need to address that.

I’ve tried mindfulness but find it hard to fit it in before work as I sleep badly which means my mornings are rushed....so I will think about focussing on sleep to allow time for mindfulness.

I’ve also struggled all my life with knowing what wellbeing is to me and knowing what makes me happy (rather than keeping everyone else happy). In fact during treatment I did discover that the thing that really helped me get through the worst of times was simply having a cup of tea with a friend so I’ve tried to continue to focus on that but probably haven’t spent as much time with friends as I need to recently. I’ve been mindful of not being a ‘drain’ and trying to be a ‘radiator’ so generally try not to share the reality of where I am now with people.

Because of all the sadness we’ve had in our lives recently I went out and bought some flowers to brighten up the living room yesterday after taking down the decorations and I’ve bought a lavender scented candle that I’m going to burn in the evenings to help relax😊 and I think it was Laurelsx who posted here yesterday about a crisp magazine. I don’t often buy one as I end up not reading it but I bought a Good Housekeeping yesterday and there’s a brilliant article in there by Dr Rangan Chatergee (BBC Doctor in the house), there’s some really good stuff in there about sleep and relaxation.

The box of anti depressants are still in my bag unused and I might try a few more things first.

Thank you everyone for your advice🌸💕🌼

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Hey Andrea, you are doing so well - give yourself the biggest of hugs and maybe ask others whom you trust in your life for a hug on days when this 'warmth towards/around' you may either 'celebrate one or two of your private inner triumphs' or just that physical contact feels good and unconditional.

Yes, your insight that you can talk to work people first - maybe 'try on words' (like clothes) until your words sound 'you' and take along your own notes to help yourself include all that you want to share about your new reality, what you so value about working there and maybe a suggestion/option or two for what may help you through the next phase of rebuilding. No phase lasts forever...

Yes, mindfulness takes alot of practice...Headspace plans in 10mins per day and I think this is realistic - maybe try their demo. And, I don't get commission!!

Thanks everso for your sharing so fully and honestly. Cancer was the trigger to 'put me first' but most definitely not in a selfish way...I knew that wasn't and isn't my style...its more about really knowing my needs and working out how I can fulfil as much of these whilst valuing the quality of all my connections. A 'new' (since cancer) colleague and now friend shared about Drains and Radiators and I loved it from the word go!

Hopefully another day without the tablets but kindness to yourself is first, so not guilty feelings when/if you pop a pill!

Warm wishes again, Lesley

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There’s an argument for and against. I work as a hypnotherapist and counsellor although I’m not at work at the moment and meet a mix of people who choose no meds or meds and Therapy. It has to be personal choice. What I would say is one year isn’t very long and 18 months is often optimum. They can work for some but if you see no improvement in four weeks ask for a different drug. There are over 80 available because one size doesn’t fit all

Or you could try Therapy first. There’s no pressure to make a decision quickly.

LA xx

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Thanks Lily-Anne. That’s really good to know about the length of time I might need to take them.

I have worked long term with a counsellor but might try again for something more cancer focussed.

I’ve been out enjoyoing the sunshine this morning☀️ xxx

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Have you tried the headspace app?

Xx

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Yes I have it on my phone. Part of the problem with keeping it going is that I sleep really badly and the mornings are a bit of a rush to get to work but I’m thinking I should try and get up a wee bit earlier to fit this in and also to try and walk to work xx

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I read an article recently about mindfiullness creating selfishness and also another saying that it is oh so yesterday.

I wish I had kept them but I agreed as I did a course and it certainly was not my thing.

I think group support is best and not neccesarily people with OC but all sorts.

That is just my humble opinion but we are of course all different.

Take care and I hope you can sort your problem with whatever is suitable for you-hopefully not drugs.

Xxx

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Thank you! I’m in a support group and you’re right, that really helps and I know I’m being very needy right now. It’s always been my preference not to try the drugs but might need that little bit of extra support now as I want to enjoy life a bit more🌸

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You have to do whatever is right for you and I wish you all the best xxxxx

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Hi Song, I was diagnosed in July 16, hysterectomy followed by chemo, all clear ever since thank God. In Sept last year we had a lot of stress with my daughter who is at uni, in fact its on going. I developed really bad pain in my abdomen, bloating etc, took me 3 weeks to pluck up the courage to go to my docs. She examined me and said all felt fine. I then burst into tears and said what with cancer and stress with my daughter I just couldn't cope. She asked me to try Citalopram, just 10mgs for a month then go back to her. I was anti as she had offered me the same when my husband was going through his cancer treatment and my triplets were only nine. I took them home but never used them. Well I cant tell you how one little pill has changed me, all the sickening anxiety has gone, yes I am still worried about things but I feel in control. I am also sleeping better as I take it at bed time. About a month after I started taking them I remember walking into town and stopping and saying out loud, "I feel so happy today"!! It may not be for everyone but you don't know until you try, I just know that they have certainly helped me. Good luck. xx

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Hi triplets - wow, what a lot you’ve been through and I take my hat off to you for raising triplets 💕 That’s really helpful as my GP has prescribed Citalopram too. Oddly, I don’t really have anxiety, I used to have it really badly but it’s been a lot better since counselling but I do want to get out there and enjoy life and it’s so good to know that they gave you the lift you needed. Andrea xxx

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Hi Andrea I was diagnosed at stage 3C HGSC as well in April 2016. Unfortunately, I had a recurrence 3 months after I finished first line chemo. I was taking anti depressants before I was diagnosed and I've continued to take them all the way through my treatment. They have done me a world of good, and I can't imagine not having them. I will continue taking them for as long as the doctor and I decide I need to. I've maintained a positive attitude throughout my illness and I'm sure the antidepressants have helped me stay positive. Take care Kim xx

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Hi Kim - I’m so sorry to hear you had a recurrence so soon after finishing treatment. I managed to stay positive through treatment but it’s been harder since I finished and I think the time has come for a little helping hand. It’s good to know that they’ve helped you. I hope you can continue to keep positive wherever you are in treatment at the moment. Take care. Andrea xxx

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After and during my treatments usually just before getting in the car I would have a lot of anxiety. Not really depressed, but the pill helped to take the edge off. I think in our position you should be comfortable and if every once in a while you need a little help. I say go for it.

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Thank you Lizchips! It sounds like I should have taken them a while ago as I used to get terrible anxiety long before my diagnosis. But after years of managing it myself and reading posts here, I’m definitely falling in favour of giving them a go xxxx

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I was on antidepressants when I was going through diagnosis. Post diagnosis I switched tablets to one that would help with hot flushes. I did have the dose increased as I was feeling really down and that really helped me cope better. I am not currently taking anything for depression

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Hi - it’s good to know that they’ve helped and it’s also good to know that you’re not taking anything now as I really don’t want to be on them forever. Andrea xxxx

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I think they get a bad rep because people misunderstand them or see it as a weakness. I assume if you broke your leg you wouldn’t have a problem having it plastered

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I’ve always avoided them in the past and tried to manage with counselling because of the nature of my depression and I think that was right for me before. But with everything I’ve been through this year, I don’t feel I can manage on my own and I also want to enjoy life while I’m well😊 I just don’t want to end up on them forever xxx

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Many people do take them long term. I was on them for a few years

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I have taken seroxat in the past (post natal depression) & found it very effective - just eased everything & took off the sharp edges. Ive been offered antidepressants often since diagnosis - but for me feel it's circumstances affecting my mood rather than clinical imbalance so have found other things more helpful. Counselling, meditation, yoga, reiki, have all been good. But I think whatever your gut instinct tells you is the right thing to do - so if antidepressants sound like they might help, and be more manageable than finding time for alternatives - maybe that's right for you at the present time.

You're definately not alone with these feelings, my counsellor gave me the cancer survivors companion mentioned by others above, there's lots in it about the emotional challenges of remission and the message of it is above all to be kind to ourselves and accept whatever help we need.

Take care

X

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