Lung Cancer and Mental Health

Cancer is a disease that occurs when some cells in the body grow out of control and spread to other parts of the body, causing damage. Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs but can spread to other areas of the body.

Depression is a mental health condition that leads to sadness or decreased interest in activities. About 25% of people with cancer suffer from depression.

This article will discuss lung cancer and depression, signs of depression, treatment options, and tips for preventing symptoms of depression.

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Lung cancer and depression

Getting diagnosed and treated for cancer can be difficult, and can lead to sad or hopeless thoughts and feelings. Any serious physical health condition can affect mental health, but it can have more to do with lung cancer.

Lung Cancer and Mental Health Statistics

People with lung cancer have a depression rate of 21% to 44%, compared to 7% to 23% of other cancers.

There is a negative stigma or association with lung cancer that arises from the link between smoking and lung cancer.

A stigma can cause:

  • Negative thoughts of oneself or others; low self-esteem
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, or self-blame
  • Bullying or negative interactions with others

Signs of depression

Signs of depression vary from person to person and can be mild and severe. In order to be diagnosed with depression, a person must have a reduced mood or reduced interest or enjoyment in daily activities for at least two weeks, along with some of the following symptoms.

  • Feelings of constant sadness, anxiety, or deafness (such as loss of feeling)
  • Lack of hope, guilt, low self-worth or excessive pessimism
  • Angry mood, excessive frustration or anger
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in past activities
  • Fatigue, less energy or slow movement, speaking or responding
  • Restlessness or urge to move
  • Memory, concentration, or decision-making challenges
  • Changes in sleep or eating habits, increase or decrease
  • Unexplained aches, pains, or discomfort
  • Suicidal thoughts or death attempts or thoughts

Getting help

Depression is treatable, and people can do a lot of things to deal with it. It is important to receive help when depression is identified or suspected.

Resources available include:

  • Primary care providers
  • Mental health providers (therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists)
  • National Suicide Prevention Line (800-273-8255)
  • Support teams

Medical professionals are able to check for depression by asking questions and asking questions. These performances are often covered by insurance and there may be no charge to the patient.


The most common treatment options for depression are medication and conversation therapy. They are sometimes used in combination with medication and conversation therapy. Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a form of therapy that uses electric currents to stimulate or adjust the brain, which in some cases can be used when medication and conversation therapy are not effective.

Medications for depression include:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

Psychotherapy methods for depression include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy it focuses on the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to change outcomes.
  • Interpersonal therapy has relationships, communication skills and conflict resolution.
  • Problem-solving therapy uses specific tools and strategies to learn how to manage stress and overcome challenges.
  • Psychodynamic therapy it considers how childhood experiences and past experiences can be used to change outcomes.
  • Relationship or family therapy involves dialogue therapy with intimate partners or relatives to help them cope together.

Lifestyle changes and coping strategies can also be helpful for depression. These options include:

  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Appreciative internship
  • Learning about depression
  • Relieve stress
  • Volunteering
  • Spend time with friends and family


It is important for people with depression and other mental health challenges, such as people with long-term health conditions, such as cancer, to receive preventative care, therapy that can help prevent the onset of depressive symptoms.

It can be used as a word therapy or counseling as a preventative aid. For example, a person who has been diagnosed with lung cancer but has no signs of depression may talk to a mental health professional to address the challenges of cancer diagnosis and treatment in order to avoid any mental health challenges that may arise.

Prevention therapy can help people with cancer:

  • Process thoughts, feelings and emotions
  • Learn coping strategies
  • Communicate better with family, friends, and their health care team
  • Continue with treatment plans
  • Identify their needs and how to meet them


There are links between lung cancer and depression. People with lung cancer are more likely to develop depression than those with other types of cancer.

Depression is treatable, and there are a variety of options available, including conversation therapy, medication, or both. It is important to seek anti-depressant support to improve the symptoms of depression and the results of lung cancer.

A word from Verywell

Diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer can be difficult and at the same time make it even more difficult to deal with depression. If you or someone you know shows signs of depression, such as feelings of sadness or a lack of interest in activities, help is available. Seek the help of a health care professional, such as a primary care provider or mental health provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does cancer increase your chances of depression?

    Stressful life events, including physical illnesses such as cancer, increase your risk of depression. People with lung cancer and other types of cancer have a higher rate of depression. However, depression is treatable, and not everyone with cancer will be diagnosed with depression.

  • How can you prevent depression?

    Depression can be prevented by being diagnosed with cancer by a mental health professional after being diagnosed with cancer. Lifestyle changes such as nutrition, exercise, and spending time with friends and family can also help.

  • What is the national line of support for depression?

    The National Suicide Prevention Line is a phone number to call for emotional support, especially if you have thoughts of harming yourself, harming others, or committing suicide. Available 24/7. The number to call is 800-273-8255.

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