We all are subject to developing depression. However, it is important to understand that there are everyday types of depression, which is different than what is referred to as clinical depression.

Everyday types of depression are caused by bumps in the road of life. Over time, we can learn to accept these problems or take steps to resolve them, and are able to set the depression aside.

Clinical depression is a medical condition that becomes part of your consciousness, obstructs your ability to function, and requires the attention of a practitioner. If you find your world darkened by feelings of depression; if you withdraw from social encounters; if you lack any energy or will, or just don’t get pleasure in anything anymore; if you are eating too much or too little, or getting too little sleep or can’t sleep at all, or stay in bed all day; if you feel fatigued; or if you believe you are experiencing a complete personality change, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

A cancer diagnosis, especially of advanced prostate cancer, is significant in and of itself. For many of us, especially as we navigate the treatment process, clinical depression comes with the territory. But it can be managed.

If you find that you are becoming clinically depressed:

  • Seek the help of a trained clinician – a nurse practitioner, social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist, one who works with oncology patients. Counseling can:
  • Help you develop ways to cope with your diagnosis.
  • Understand the meaning and implications of your diagnosis.
  • Help you make better treatment choices.
  • Help you manage your feelings.
  • Help you develop better communication skills with your families, friends and healthcare providers.
  • Manage your symptoms, drug side effects, pain and fatigue.
  • Deal with some of the financial burdens you face.
  • Deal with workplace issues resulting from your cancer or its treatments.
  • Understand and devise coping mechanisms to resolve sexuality and relational issues created by the cancer and its treatments.
  • Develop strategies to enter the post-treatment world.


  • There are a number of different ways to find an appropriate clinician:


  • Ask your oncologist or the clinical nurse about counseling services available at your hospital or cancer treatment center.
  • Ask your oncologist or clinical nurse for referrals to clinicians and counseling services in your community.
  • Contact your health insurance company for a list of therapists or clinicians covered under your plan.
  • Find out if your employer has an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides counseling services.
  • Check with your prostate cancer brothers from a support group for recommendations of mental health clinicians trained and experienced in treating men with prostate cancer.
  • Call your state or local association of social workers, psychologists or psychiatrists for a referral.

Another  way to deal with both every day and clinical depression is to exercise regularly. Studies have shown that exercise not only enhances physical health, but is also an excellent way to combat depression.  Going to the gym is great, but not necessary. Above all, walk, walk, and then walk some more.


Reduce stress in your life. There is some evidence that the stress hormone cortisol encourages the growth of cancer cells. Higher and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (such as that associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have deleterious effects, including: impaired cognitive performance; suppressed thyroid function; blood sugar imbalances, including hyperglycemia; decreased bone density; loss of muscle tissue; elevated blood pressure; lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body; slowed wound healing; increased abdominal fat, which is associated with more significant health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body; heart attacks and strokes; the development of metabolic syndrome (elevated levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), leading to even greater health problems!

Reduce stress

Get a pet! Pets are known to improve the quality of life and our physical health. There have been many studies that show that the physical stroking of a pet lowers our blood pressure and increases the levels of (good) mood related hormones serotonin and dopamine.

Get a pet.

When I was having trouble walking my family gave me a dog, Charlie. I now walk Charlie several times a day, getting much needed exercise besides having a constant companion and a great friend.

Use medication if needed.

If the depression – or anxiety — is severe, you might benefit from antidepressive or antianxiety medications.  See a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner for assessment and treatment.  A psychiatrist is a medical doctor specifically trained in psychiatry; a psychiatric nurse practitioner is a graduate level nurse with advanced training in psychiatric medication.  There is no shame in using medication to lift your mood.