Hormone therapy itself can affect your mood. You may find that you feel more emotional than usual or just ‘different’ to how you felt before. Some men find that they cry a lot. You may also get mood swings, such as getting tearful and then angry. Just knowing that these feelings are caused by hormone therapy can help.
Everyone’s different – some men are surprised by the side effects and how upsetting they find them. Others have fewer symptoms or are not as worried by them.
Some of the other side effects of hormone therapy are hard to come to terms with. Physical changes, such as putting on weight, or changes to your sex life, might make you feel very different about yourself. Some men say they feel less masculine because of their diagnosis and treatment.
If you’re starting hormone therapy very soon after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, you might still feel upset, shocked, frightened or angry about having cancer. These feelings are normal, and it's okay to feel this way.
Things in your day-to-day life can change because of the hormone therapy. Your relationships with your partner, family and friends might change. Or you might be too tired to do some of the things you used to do.
Some men experience low moods, anxiety or depression. This could be directly caused by the hormone therapy itself, or because you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It could also be due to the impact that treatment is having on you and your family.
If your mood is often very low, you are losing interest in things, or your sleep pattern or appetite has changed a lot, speak to your GP or doctor at the hospital. These can be signs of depression and there are treatments available that could help.
What can help?
Some men find their own way to cope and might not want any outside help. Others try to cope on their own because they don’t want to talk about things or are afraid of worrying loved ones. Go easy on yourself, and give yourself time to deal with your feelings.
Talking about it
Sometimes talking about how you feel can help. You might be able to get support from talking to family or friends. Or talking to your doctor or nurse might help. You could also speak in confidence to our Specialist Nurses.
You might find it helps to talk to someone who’s been through something similar. The volunteers on our one-to-one support service have all been affected by prostate cancer. They are trained to listen and offer support over the phone. We have volunteers who have had hormone therapy and can understand what you’re going through.
There are also support groups across the country where you can meet others affected by prostate cancer. Most support groups also welcome partners and family members.
You could also join our online community where you can talk to other people with prostate cancer and their families, or simply read previous conversations.
It’s sometimes difficult to talk to people close to you. Some people find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know. Counsellors are trained to listen and can help you find your own way to deal with things. Many hospitals have counsellors or psychologists who specialise in helping people with cancer – ask your doctor or nurse if this is available. You can also refer yourself for counselling on the NHS, or you could see a private counsellor. Visit the NHS website or contact the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy to find out more.
Changes to your lifestyle
There are several lifestyle changes that might help improve your mood and ease feelings of depression and anxiety. These include:
- learning ways to relax such as yoga, mindfulness, or listening to music
- doing regular physical activity – start slowly and pace yourself, maybe just start off by having a short walk
- carrying on with your usual work, hobbies and social activities that you enjoy, or trying something new – some men say this helps them stay happy and relaxed.
You might also find it helpful to go on a course to learn ways to manage side effects, feelings and relationships. Macmillan Cancer Support, Maggie’s Centres, Self Management UK, Penny Brohn UK and Look Good Feel Better all run free courses for people living with cancer. Ask your doctor or nurse if there are any courses or education sessions for patients in your local area. Some hospitals have support and information services that may run these types of activities for people with cancer.
Treatments for depression
If you are feeling depressed or anxious, anti-depressant medicines may help. Let your GP know if you think you’re depressed so that they can help find the right treatment for you. Before you start taking any anti-depressants, make sure you tell your GP, doctor or nurse at the hospital about any other medicines or complementary therapies you’re taking. Anti-depressant medicines can sometimes take a few weeks to start working. Until you start feeling better, you may want to try other things as well, such as counselling or meditation.
You and your partner
If you have a partner, they may feel worried, anxious or upset about your cancer. They might feel isolated and find it difficult to tell you how they are feeling in case they worry you. You can get support together. Or sometimes it can be useful to get separate support as well.
Doctors and nurses are always happy for you to bring your partner along to your appointments, and they might be able to tell you about types of support that would suit you both. Many support groups also welcome partners. The charity Relate provides relationship counselling and other support services for couples.
Read our information for partners and family, or order or download our booklet, When you’re close to someone with prostate cancer: A guide for partners and family.
Hormone therapy can make you feel quite down and tearful. But I’ve learnt to recognise when it’s coming on and ways to deal with it.