Hormone therapy for prostate cancer may cause adverse mental health effects such as mood swings or depression.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States. Doctors may treat it with radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy, both of which can cause side effects. Some of these side effects may affect a person’s mental health, causing depression, anxiety, or mood swings.

This article explores the mental health effects of prostate cancer treatment and other side effects. It also discusses how to find support or support for someone undergoing treatment.

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According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), hormone therapy treatment for prostate cancer can cause mood swings.

Hormone therapy decreases or blocks male hormones called androgens, which prostate cancer needs to grow. Experts refer to this type of treatment as androgen deprivation therapy or ADT.

Hormone therapy can have many side effects, including those related to mental health.

Most of the emotional side effects of low androgen levels will eventually go away when someone stops hormone therapy. However, side effects may persist in older men and those taking ADT for longer periods.

In addition to mood swings, treatment for prostate cancer can cause other mental health effects.


Depression may be a side effect of hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

Other side effects of treatment, such as reduced sexual desire and fatigue, may also impact a person’s mood and increase their risk for depression.

People experiencing depression due to prostate cancer treatment may wish to discuss antidepressants or counseling with their care team.


Some people report anxiety as a side effect of hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

Additionally, people may experience anxiety over treatments or procedures such as biopsies. It is also typical for a cancer diagnosis to cause increases in stress levels.

People who feel anxious about prostate cancer treatment may find talking with someone such as a trusted friend or mental health professional helpful.

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer can affect thinking and memory. Doctors refer to this as mild cognitive impairment. Some people call this side effect “chemo brain.” However, it does not only happen after chemotherapy. It can also occur after hormone therapy.

For many people, the changes to thinking and memory are subtle and get better after treatment.

Other possible side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer include:

  • loss of interest in sex
  • erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • hot flashes
  • loss of bone density
  • bone fractures
  • loss of muscle mass and physical strength
  • changes in blood lipids
  • insulin resistance
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • growth of breast tissue (gynecomastia)

The support of a loved one may help people as they cope with a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Loved ones can help in a few ways:

  • They can help the person make a list of questions they want to ask their doctor.
  • They can offer to find resources to help support the person through treatment and cope with feelings of fear, worry, or anger.
  • They can listen to the person and give them an outlet to talk about their feelings.
  • They can join them in exercising or doing their favorite hobbies.

People can speak with their healthcare team about accessing support during treatment.

Forms of support may include counseling, talking with people with similar experiences, or obtaining helpful information online.

The following answers some frequently asked questions.

How does your personality change after prostate surgery?

Orchiectomy (surgical castration) decreases androgens which may have similar effects to hormone therapy. Side effects may include decreased mental sharpness, depression, and reduced sexual desire.

Do you get mood swings with hormone therapy for prostate cancer?

Mood swings are a possible side effect of hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

How bad are the side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer?

The extent and severity of side effects may vary from person to person.

Hormone therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer may cause side effects such as mood swings, depression, or anxiety. In addition, people undergoing treatment may feel anxious or stressed about their cancer diagnosis and related medical procedures.

Other side effects of treatment, such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, or fatigue, may impact mood, increasing the risk of mental health issues.

While side effects can happen, treatment may be available. People experiencing side effects such as mood swings can discuss treatment options with their care team.