Depression in the Context of Cancer

Elliot J. Coups, Jeremy Winell, Jimmie C. Holland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


This chapter presents an up-to-date overview of depression in the context of cancer. Topics we examine include the measurement and diagnosis of depression, prevalence, biological markers and underpinnings, and the management of depression. The assessment of depression in cancer patients is complex. We discuss multiple conceptual approaches to the diagnosis of depression in cancer patients, and also examine available diagnostic measures and tools. Prevalence estimates of depression among cancer patients vary widely. We consider reasons for such diverse estimates and provide suggestions for improved reporting of prevalence estimates. On a biological level, we examine five biological markers of depression: serotonergic neurotransmission changes, sleep architecture changes, brain structure abnormalities, neuroendocrine changes, and cytokines. We conclude with an analysis of the management of depression in cancer patients. Available treatment modalities include antidepressant medications (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, atypical antidepressants, and psychostimulants), psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy. In examining these inter-related topics regarding depression in the context of cancer, our review spans conceptual, methodological, physiological, and clinical issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBiology of Depression
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Novel Insights to Therapeutic Strategies
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)3527307850, 9783527307852
StatePublished - Jan 29 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


  • Cancer
  • Cytokines
  • Diagnosis
  • Measurement
  • Suggestions


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