Tamoxifen And Anxiety. Is There A Link?

tamoxifen and anxietyI don’t know about you, but to me the list of side effects from taking Tamoxifen just seems to keep on racking up and up.

Up until now I’ve avoided reading the list of POTENTIAL side effects on the packet, for fear of attributing every ache, pain and niggle to it, but it’s time to have a proper look.

Tamoxifen and Anxiety

Anxiety, and depression, is given as a side effect on the leaflet of my packet, but I’m not at all clear what normal anxiety is, which may sound a bit loopy.  The trouble is that after breast cancer there is stuff to worry about. Fears about recurrence,  problems with the medication, fears about it popping up somewhere else.  EEK.

I’ve also read about tamoxifen takers experiencing panic attacks – which is different to a general feeling of anxiety.

Right now my womb is being looked into and so I’m on tenterhooks whilst all that’s happening.  So is the churning in my stomach and the mild panic attacks over really inconsequential rubbish could be happening because of that, or is the anxiety genuinely out of proportion to the problem, and merely a chemical manifestation of the Tamoxifen? Who knows.

However, if you are dealing with anxiety, it can be useful to understand that it might arise from the Tamoxifen.  If the anxiety is not your fault, or out of your control, this means you can stop beating yourself up and trying to resolve it from within, and focus your energy on just dealing with the side effect, because you’re off the hook as far as being the cause goes.

Is The Anxiety Due To A Menopausal ‘Side Effect’ Caused By Taking Tamoxifen?

Another suggestion is that the anxiety is a hormonal, menopausal type response. In other words, taking Tamoxifen creates a menopausal situation in your body, and any anxiety is due to the menopause. However, do be careful if you decide to take stuff to help, because many of the supplements to help with the effects of the menopause are contraindicated for anyone taking tamoxifen.

Do Doctors And Onco’s Acknowledge A Link Between Tamoxifen And Anxiety?

Doctors are still people and so have differing opinions and prejudices.  When I asked my pharmacist if Tamoxifen was linked to anxiety she told me a definite NO.  When a new chemist shop opened in our village and I went to pick up my prescription, that pharmacist told me it was a well known side effect.

Whilst some patients report their doctor immediately made the link between Tamoxifen and anxiety, others were told it didn’t exist and sent away. Given the subjective nature of anxiety, this is perhaps understandable, although it doesn’t help much when you’re trying to deal with it.

What Could Anxiety Due To Tamoxifen Feel Like?

  • Over-reacting to minor disturbances or being easily startled. I believe this can sneak up on you and you may need to delve deep and think back to before all of this started.  If you are jumping out of your skin just because the dog barks or the kids are shouting, would you have reacted like that before?
  • A churning of adrenalin which won’t subside
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling light headed and dizzy
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Feeling too hot or cold
  • A sense of foreboding – there’s something wrong@! But goodness knows what.
  • Worrying about trivia.  By trivia I mean things like the bank wrongly applying charges to your account.  It’s usually sorted out, it’s a part of life and shouldn’t induce fear or mild panic.

Basically – are you sweating the small stuff?

Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer about how to distinguish justified anxiety, which understandably takes over from time to time, from a tamoxifen induced anxiety.  Neither is there a clear solution, although the following ideas did come up in my research:

  • Take the tamoxifen at night so that some of the symptoms have dissipated by the morning
  • Take 1mg of Diazepam to relieve the symptoms of anxiety
  • Lexapro, Effexor and Celexa are antidepressant type drugs which can be taken with Tamoxifen.  There were a number of posters on the forums who reported Lexapro helped them
  • Rescue Remedy is one of the Bach Flower Remedies.  This particular one is for comfort and reassurance and there’s also a night-time formula
  • Aromatherapy
  • Split the dose in two and take it in the morning and the evening, instead of all in one go.
  • See a Healer or Reiki therapist to help you deal with any negative energy which could, apparently, make it difficult for the positive thoughts to penetrate
  • Use candles (not like that!). Turn off the lights, light some candles and have a long soak in the bath, or relax in bed.  A glass or two of wine helps as well, but the soothing light of the candles are the key.
  • Relax your muscles, especially around the eyes.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds because tense muscles is a habit which needs to be reformed into relaxed muscles.  Eye muscles use loads of energy which makes the effort of relaxing worthwhile – if you get my drift.

WARNING: The above is not medical advice and you should always check with your doctor before you do any of these.  If your doctor is prescribing something to help you with the anxiety, do remind them that you’re taking tamoxifen.



4 thoughts on “Tamoxifen And Anxiety. Is There A Link?”

  1. Linda McKinlay

    Thankyou for this! I have tried to find info on this particular side effect, and am soothed by the fact that these bouts of anxiety (minor palpitations, etc) may be due to the tamoxifen. Your article described exactly what I have been going through these past couple of weeks….wondering if I was going ‘loopy’ or whether this was yet another aspect of this treatment! I will try cutting pills in two. Will discuss other options with my Doctor.

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