Anastrozole and Depression: Understanding the Connection

Anastrozole and Depression: Understanding the Connection

Introduction to Anastrozole and Depression

As a breast cancer survivor, I know firsthand the emotional roller coaster that comes with the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. One aspect of my treatment journey that I want to talk about today is the use of Anastrozole, a medication commonly prescribed to postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. While it is effective in reducing the risk of cancer recurrence, it is important to understand the potential connection between Anastrozole and depression.

What is Anastrozole and how does it work?

Anastrozole, also known as Arimidex, is an aromatase inhibitor that is prescribed to postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. It works by reducing the production of estrogen in the body, thereby slowing down or stopping the growth of cancer cells that depend on estrogen to grow. For many women, this medication has been a lifesaver, but like any medication, it comes with its own set of side effects.

Common side effects of Anastrozole

Some of the common side effects of Anastrozole include hot flashes, joint pain, and mood swings. However, a lesser-known side effect is the potential for it to cause or exacerbate depression in some women. It is important to note that not everyone who takes Anastrozole will experience depression, but understanding the connection can help you take proactive steps to manage your mental health during your treatment journey.

Why does Anastrozole cause depression?

The exact reason why Anastrozole may cause depression is not yet fully understood, but there are a few theories. One possible explanation is that by reducing estrogen levels in the body, Anastrozole may also be affecting the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for regulating mood. When these levels are disrupted, it can lead to depression and other mood disorders.

Managing depression while taking Anastrozole

If you are experiencing depression while taking Anastrozole, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. They may recommend a combination of treatments, such as antidepressant medications and therapy, to help you manage your depression. Additionally, there are several self-care strategies that you can employ to help you cope with depression, such as:


Engaging in regular physical activity can help boost your mood and alleviate depression symptoms. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood elevators, and can also help improve your overall sense of well-being. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week.

Support groups

Joining a support group can provide you with a sense of community and understanding, as well as a space to share your experiences and learn from others who may be going through similar struggles. Many breast cancer organizations offer support groups specifically for women taking Anastrozole or other aromatase inhibitors.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation, can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. These techniques can also help you develop a greater sense of control over your emotions and improve your overall mental well-being.

Setting realistic expectations

It's important to recognize that managing depression while taking Anastrozole may not be easy, but it's important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your treatment journey. Understand that it may take time to find the right combination of treatments and self-care strategies that work best for you, and be patient with yourself during this process.

When to seek professional help

If you are struggling with depression while taking Anastrozole and it is interfering with your daily life, it is important to seek professional help. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, can help you develop a personalized treatment plan to manage your depression and support you throughout your treatment journey.


Understanding the connection between Anastrozole and depression is crucial for managing your mental health during your breast cancer treatment journey. By recognizing the potential side effects and taking proactive steps to manage your depression, you can improve your overall quality of life and focus on healing both physically and emotionally. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and there are resources available to help you every step of the way.

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