Cancer and Coping With Depression
A cancer diagnosis can change everything for the patient and their family, sometimes instantly. Facing a battle against cancer can result in a tremendous shift in everyone’s emotions, lifestyle, and priorities.
For the cancer patient, however, the shift is often the most dramatic. After all, they are the ones experiencing the physical impact of this dreadful disease.
Even the most common treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, create a host of physical and emotional side-effects that can feel worse than the disease itself.
One of these “side-effects” is depression. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that one in four cancer patients experiences clinical depression. Feelings that might seem easy to handle initially, for some people, evolve into deeper feelings of anxiety and sadness over their diagnosis, treatment, or prognosis. It is not surprising.
What Are Signs That Someone With Cancer Is Depressed?
Yet, many people don’t know the signs of clinical depression and are unsure what to look for. What makes it even more difficult to notice signs of depression is that many of the symptoms overlap with side effects or symptoms of cancer treatments. These signs listed below are usually pervasive, more intense, and longer-lasting than “ordinary” or temporary feelings of sadness and worry.
What are some signs that might indicate someone is depressed?
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of emptiness
- Feelings of overwhelming sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
- Excessive sleeping, fatigue, exhaustion
- Slowed speech
- Slow movements
- Slow reactions or thinking
- Mood swings
- Nausea or stomach pains
- Changes in appetite
Again, some of these might exist in part due to chemotherapy, radiation, or other cancer treatments. Speak to a doctor or other health care professional if any of these issues linger or worsen.
People With Cancer Also Experience Anxiety
Anxiety is also prevalent in many cancer patients. It is not uncommon to experience a range of feelings of anxiety, from worry about your future to full-blown panic attacks upon walking into or even thinking about treatment.
What are some common signs of anxiety?
- Feelings of restlessness or irritability
- Feeling physically tense or uneasy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Sweating, having cold-sweats
- Lightheadedness, dizziness
What Can You Do if You or Someone With Cancer is Suffering From Anxiety or Depression?
Talk. Talking about your feelings is one of the most important ways to process what you are experiencing. Talk to your friend, loved one, or a therapist. Talking about what you are dealing with is an essential step toward getting the support you need. Speaking to someone you trust can help validate your feelings and help you cope with them. A trusted friend can also help you seek comfort from a professional or support group.
Accept feelings. A cancer diagnosis is scary. Treatments can be difficult. The future might appear uncertain in ways it never felt before. These feelings are normal. It is ok if you don’t always feel “fine.” Acknowledging that these feelings are real and valid is important.
Tend to physical health.
Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. As hard as it is, concentrate on making healthy choices. Eat right, sleep, and get exercise if possible.
No one should have to endure cancer alone. If you have a friend or loved one dealing with a cancer diagnosis, you can help by being attentive to their emotional and physical well-being. Checking in, listening, and allowing them to share their feelings can provide an extra boost they might need to make getting through the day a bit easier.
Help Someone With Cancer: Send a Cancer Gift From Rock the Treatment
The importance of emotional health cannot be understated when it comes to cancer. Studies show that anything you can do to lift the spirits of someone with cancer is a good thing! A positive outlook plays a crucial role in recovery from cancer, chemotherapy treatments, and radiation. In addition to listening and being a good friend, consider sending a cancer gift box from Rock the Treatment.
At Rock the Treatment, we offer small, medium, and large gift boxes for:
If someone you love has cancer, send them a helpful cancer gift basket from Rock The Treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation gift baskets are packed with the essentials needed to ease side effects of treatment, as well as enhance physical and mental well-being. See all of our cancer care packages and find the one that best supports their journey.