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Depression and Anxiety in Cancer Patients and Ways to Deal with Them

If you look at the global data, then cancer has become one of the most deadly diseases of our time. The number of new cancer cases in 2021 has already exceeded 19 million worldwide. Cancer is becoming more common and invasive every day. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death today. 

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming at any stage. It evokes many emotions. It’s completely natural to feel this way. Not only patients but also people near people with cancer can share the same feelings. However, staying positive and optimistic can improve the quality of life and even improve the outcome of ongoing treatment.

Emotional toll and impact on mental health

Cancer patients with ongoing treatment:

Obviously one might be overwhelmed with all sorts of emotions after being diagnosed with cancer. You may be shocked, sad, lonely, angry, guilty, and hopeless. All of these feelings are real and you can begin to accept them. 

Having cancer means you might lose a lot of important things. You can lose your health. The general appearance is subject to change. Family relationships can also change. The burden of cancer treatment can lead to financial setbacks. This adds to the physical suffering. Therefore, you should also pay attention to your mental health. Mental health is so important that we can’t say we’ll see each other another day. 

During treatment, it is common to feel anxious before and after the test. You may think you are not being healed as you should be. You may feel sad, but that’s normal and natural. This can lead to depression. You may lose hope and have difficulty concentrating on your daily tasks or even getting out of bed. These are all signs of depression. 

Cancer survivors or patients who have recovered:

Even when a person recovers from cancer, they often do not look happy or celebratory. It could be because one person has been through a lot. The person may still be used to not going to the medical facility anymore. Research has found that cancer survivors are more often affected by anxiety and depression than people without a history of cancer.

Diagnosis of cancer can have a significant impact on mental health and well-being. Depression and anxiety can affect the treatment and recovery of cancer, as well as the quality of life and survival. We argue that more research is needed to prevent and treat comorbid depression and anxiety in cancer patients, which requires higher clinical priorities.

Depression: a common issue among cancer patients

During the course of treatment, it is quite common to feel anxiety before and after the tests. You may think that you are not healing the way you should have. You may feel sad, but it’s very common and natural. This can lead to depression. You may lose hope and have difficulty focusing on your day-to-day work or even getting out of bed. These are all signs of depression. 

It has been found in research that depression and anxiety are common factors affecting cancer patients. One should not hide their feelings and tell their doctors freely. Many think that fear is something only weak ones have. But it’s not true. Emotional and mental well-being is equally important. You cannot treat mental well-being as something you can deal with later. Losing mental wellness can affect how your body reacts to treatment. 

So, express your feelings and pain to your physicians without any hesitation. Our brain is like any other body part and hence liable to be affected by any diseases like depression or anxiety. Talk to your specialist for options available. Treatment of depression involves prescribing antidepressants. But the best approach is both pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. The same goes for anxiety too. Some medicines can be prescribed for anxiety or psychological interventions can be also helpful.

Ways to deal with depression and anxiety

Dealing with your feelings:

The first thing you need to do is accept your feelings. Accept that you are feeling overwhelmed, fearful, weak, and angry. All feelings are natural and it’s okay to feel that way. Don’t be hard on yourself or live in guilt. Accepting that one has cancer might have a positive effect.

Join the community or get emotional support:

You can join a community with people battling cancer. Hearing stories of combat can bring a sense of hope. Talking to and listening to people in similar situations can have a positive effect on you and your family. You can learn a lot from their experience and how they handled a particular difficulty. 

Today, you can even join an online community. There are a number of such communities that encourage positivity and support from their members. Listening to or watching their success stories can lift your spirits and give you the strength to fight cancer. 

If needed, get a personal counselor to help you deal with stress and heal yourself. There’s nothing wrong with getting emotional help. 

Regular exercise and yoga for mental health:

Simple aerobic exercises can help anyone stay physically and mentally healthy. It has been argued that group exercise can help a person who has recovered from cancer reduce anxiety and depression. Practicing mediation can also help one cope with stress and anxiety.

Studies show that yoga can help cancer patients or survivors both mentally and physically. While yoga cannot fight cancer on its own, yoga can reduce some of the side effects of cancer and its cures. Several studies have shown that yoga can reduce cancer fatigue and improve sleep. It also helps with recovery after cancer surgery. An aspect of yoga that involves the mind, which can reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. Even after recovery, yoga can help a survivor deal with post-cancer anxiety and distress.

Summing up

Fighting depression and anxiety are quite challenging for any cancer patient. Since cases of depression have been rising among the people suffering from cancer, there is a need to find better ways to find solutions. It heavily depends on the social support groups and the doctors to help cancer patients to maintain their mental well-being.


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