Steroid Dexamethasone and Depression

4 mg. tablets of Dexamethasone


What is Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a steroid used for many ailments, diseases, allergies, arthritis, and is used in the drug treatment of certain cancers.

This drug can be found in eye drops, and in chemotherapeutic drugs.

Can Dexamethasone cause depression?

I am living proof that Dexamethasone does in fact or can in fact cause depression. Currently I am battling stage IV inoperable lung cancer.

Searching on Google and health related sites I was unable to find a lot of information on Dexamethasone and depression. This is the main reason for me writing this article. I hope that for others searching out this information that they find my article useful and that it helps them.

When I first started my chemotherapy I would have to take a number of drugs the day before, the day of, and the day after the chemo was administered. This included two 4 mg. tablets of dexamethasone twice daily.

I've gone through clinical depression before so I knew exactly what I was going through when I started becoming depressed. Usually my husband sees all the symptoms before I do. This time I kept insisting that it was happening, and he kept blaming it on chemo itself.

Let me state that I am by no means a medical expert, and the following symptoms will vary from person to person.


Side Notes
Not being able to sleep
I never wanted to get out of bed
Lack of Appetite
Increased Appetite
I found food hard to swallow
No Sex Drive
Increased Sex Drive
I was afraid to be alone
Suicidal Thoughts
No suicidal thoughts
I went to emergency as soon as I had such thoughts
Tired all the Time
Energetic all the Time
No Concentration
Increased Concentration
Not able to Cry
Cry at the Drop of a Hat
Even when I was very sad I could not cry

Seeking Help

Once I was positive that I needed help with my depression I went to our local hospital for help and advice. Instead by the crisis center worker I was told that she felt that it wasn't depression at all but a reaction to the chemo drugs that they were injecting me with. She suggested I talk to my oncologist and see if there was anything that he could do for me.

A week passed and I'd not been able to get into see my oncologist for a few days. I awoke one morning thinking about all the pills I had in my possession and thought it would be quite easy to put an end to everything. This scared the holy cr_p out of me so I had my husband drive me back to emergency where I saw the same crisis center worker.

This time she paid more attention to me and had the emergency room doctor prescribe an anti-depressant. I recall her exact words, which were: "These pills should kick in, in about two weeks and you'll start feeling better."

Right then and there I knew she knew little about anti-depressants as the majority of them take 4 to 6 weeks before you feel any results from them. But I thanked her and the doctor and went on my merry way to have the script filled.

Once I saw my oncologist he immediately had me talk to a psychiatrist that was on call. When I explained to her that I was very anxious she prescribed Clorazepan for the axiety and Cipralex and Abilify for the depression.

The next morning I thought that the psychiatrist was a miracle worker as all of the anxiety was gone. Six weeks later I was back to normal. From the beginning of seeing her she was positive that the depression was caused by the Dexamethasone. I will continue to stay on the anti-depressants until I am no longer taking the steroid.

These People Talk About Depression

Treating Depression

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression please get them or get help immediately. The sooner it is treated, the sooner the symptoms will go away.

Prescription Drugs

Do you or do you know of anyone that has suffered from depression because of being on a certain type of prescription drug?

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Comments 38 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 16 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Rachel, So sorry your daughter had to go through depression. Thanks so much!

Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 16 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

I am so sorry, Susan, to have read what you are going through. I will be saying a prayer for you. I have a daughter who went through depression in her teens. It was an awful time. She tried to commit suicide but several times, but failed. It just wasn't her time. The last time she was placed in a temporary hospital for people like her and they did help a lot. She did not have to take any drugs, thank God. Just therapy and a lot of prayers. She is fine now with two daughters, 20 and 18.

I know the heartache of depression. I am so sorry for your cancer. Hang in there and look up always to the One who can help you.

Many blessings to you.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 21 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi Sunshine. So true, drugs effect everyone in many different ways. The Dexamethasone has also caused me to gain weight and it is so hard to get it off but I keep trying :) Have a great day and sorry for such a late reply.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 21 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Audrey, Thanks so much sorry for the late reply.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 21 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Dressage, There are many drugs that both humans and animals can be treated with. Some people have to take Dexamethasone every day.

Being on chemo, which is working quite well, I'm not allowed to eat a diet high in anti oxidants. I'm happy to say that I'm now in remission :) I've always eaten a very healthy diet and I partly attribute it to all the fights I've had with cancer.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your cousin. Thank you so much for your comments and letting me know about Eat to Live. I will have a look at the book and diet as there's always room to improve on what I do eat.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 21 months ago from Orlando, FL

Dexamethasone and Prednisone, both steroids have a long list of possible side effects which are a nuisance. Dave and many other prostate cancer warriors in my cancer group have been on long term steroid use and I have yet to hear a positive comment about either drug. Yet, depression wasn't one of their side effects. On the other hand the warriors did or do suffer from depression but that was most likely caused from the diagnosis. In their case this was so. Yet, as we all know there are no cancer patients alike and the side effects are different in each person. Good call on publishing this article, you never know who it might help. Wishing you continued success with your journey.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 21 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi Audrey, Yes I'm in remission and I'm still undergoing chemo treatments every 3 weeks. Thanks so much for checking on me.

brakel2 profile image

brakel2 21 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

So sorry Susan for your problems. Medicines can either kill or cure you at times. We must be so careful, especially if taking several medications. I hate to read side effects but understand the importance. I hope your weather gets warmer up there and everywhere. Take care. Blessings, Audrey

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 21 months ago from Nashville Tn.

I'm back again to see how you're doing Susan. Are you in remission? What about the chemo treatments? You are in my prayers. Hugs, Audrey

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 22 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thank you peachpurple, I'm now in remission and am quite happy :)

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

thanks for letting us know the side effect of this pills, i am really saddened of your illness, really no other doctor could operate you? praying for miracle

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 22 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Audrey, The strange thing was that my oncologist was unaware of the side effect depression.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 22 months ago from California

Thank you for posting this Susan! We trust so readily and sometimes, just pray! Hope you are feeling well --hugs to you!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 23 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

flycatcherrr, I wish they'd come up with some other drug that wouldn't cause the side effects that dexamethasone causes. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comments. I really appreciate you.

flycatcherrr profile image

flycatcherrr 23 months ago

Susan, first off, I am so sorry to learn that you're dealing with Stage IV cancer - cause enough for depression in anyone, one would think, even without the added effects of those nasty little "stop sign" pills. For me, the worst effects of the dexamethasone are cognitive messed-up-ness and over-emotional reactions to just everything. This is unpleasant enough, but not anywhere in the same league as depression. It is truly scary, how the steroids can mess with a person's brain. Sending you best wishes for hanging in to the end of chemo, and for a good outcome.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Martie! xxx

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Very interesting information about Dexamethasone and that it may cause depression. You are always in my thoughts, Susan :)

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Susan!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Yes, me included. Thanks for stopping by ubrish.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

So glad to hear your husband is off all meds, that's fantastic! Thanks so much Peg for your support through this.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Frank, Thanks so much. I'm glad that they were able to determine that the depression was from dexamethasone in my case and I was even happier when the depression lifted.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 2 years ago from Southwest Missouri

I am so glad you did this research! So many of us take medications that affect us in awful ways, but we trust our doctors. When we are in a state, we sometimes forget that our chemical make-up can react so differently to some medicines than it does to others. Thank you for sharing this information!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Mary, It's just another bump in the road or was I should say :) My oncologist was quite surprised that it was the dexamethasone causing the depression. Funny seeing that he prescribes this to so many patients that he's never come across this before.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I was surprised by what both the ER doctor and the crisis centre councillor said to me. Suzette I like my pain management doctor for most of my problems lately. He seems to be the most knowledgeable these days :)

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks so Barbara Kay!

ubrish profile image

ubrish 2 years ago from Pakistan(Asia)

Many people use medicine as drug

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Susan, I'm so sorry to hear about the side effects you're experiencing from all the medication. Having to go through what you're faced with is such a scary thing in itself without the added complications. Taking the medications can definitely cause harm while they cure, as my husband can readily testify. He had some pretty low times on massive doses of narcotics prescribed for his chronic back pain, along with steroids, antidepressants, anti inflammatory, blood pressure and diabetes medications. The combination was overwhelming. Thankfully he is off all the pain meds now.

I wish you all the best in this very difficult struggle. Hugs to you.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

this is a useful hub and as Pamela stated all medications have side effects, and this one has several... depression can be draining, Ive never experienced it but i knew many who has... talking about it does help I think.. and I can only wish those and you who suffered from depression and the side effects bounce back quickly and live life for what it really offers bless you

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

First let me say I am so sorry you had to have this added burden in the middle of what you are going through. Next let me thank you for sharing this. I'm sure there are people unaware of the reason they are suffering some side effects. We get those sheets from the drug store listing all the side effects but how many of us actually read them? Unfortunately if we did we probably wouldn't take the medications we really need.

So much is still unknown about so many of the drugs we take. Again, thank you Susan.

Voted up, useful, interesting, and shared.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

Very interesting and informative article. I agree with you 100%. I have had to take a lot of prednisone, a steroid, over my life time for inflammation due to angioedema and it has caused depression in me. Really, any type of steroid can cause depression. I realize it does not happen in every patient, but it happened to me. I have always taken medication to counter the depression and right now in my life, I am feeling the best I ever have. These drugs have to be taken with a grain of salt and I have found the ER doctors and nurses are great in physical emergencies but for depressive types of situations they are not very good. My own internist is the best help for my particular situation. This is an important article and I enjoyed reading it.

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA

Susan, I'm sending prayers for you and hope you get better and soon.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Barbara Kay, It's amazing what a pill can do to a person. I'm still taking the dexamethasone and will continue to do so until my chemo treatments stop.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Pam, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I hope that you're recovering well from your surgery. That sounds so painful and an operation I have a feeling my husband needs. He's stubborn though and won't go to see about it. I too am having a problem with weight gain from the dexamethasone and can't sleep very well at all lately.

Audrey, I hope that you never have to take this drug. Nice to see you.

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA

I was on a drug is the same class as this. It made me so hyper I couldn't even sit through church, even though I was so sick that I shouldn't have been doing anything. Also I cried over the least little anything which isn't like me at all. The warning that came with mine is that it could cause emotional changes. My husband told me I had to talk to the doctor about it and get put on something else. After 2 full years of using it, it was a real relief when I returned to my normal self.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Hi Susan. Thanks for this interesting and informative article on Dexamethasone and Depression. I had not heard of this drug so I'm glad I ran across your hub.

Voted up and will pin and share. Hugs, Audrey

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

shraddhachawia, Thanks so much for reading and for leaving your comments. I appreciate the time you took.

shraddhachawla 2 years ago

Genuine hub. Steroid intake is associated with subtle changes in cognitive function and depression. Your symptoms of increased sleep, lack of appetite and fatigue are that of anhedonia, lack of finding pleasure in anything. Your depression could be partly due to the steroids and partly due to the mental trauma from the word cancer. Good to read that your psychiatrist has been a great help. Psychic healing, biofeedback, spirituality and meditation do more than what medicines can do at times. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States

This is a useful artical as all medications have side effects, and this one has several. I have lupus and arthritis and have used this med almost constantly over the past 25 years as nothing else worked. I have not experienced depression except very short term when on very high doses, and when I am on higher doses I am very emotional, can't sleep and have to battle weight gain.

I have many problems now due to long term usage of this drug. I just went through rotator cuff surgery and they removed the end of my clavicle to remove some of the arthritis. This has been miserable and it takes 5-6 months to fully recover.

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