Psychological Side Effects of Cancer and How to Deal

by Brittany McNabb

Cancer affects both the body as well as the mind. According to WhatNexters, they often experience mental and emotional side effects of cancer while still battling the physical side effects. Here are a few side effects you may have experienced and ways to fight off the mental difficulties.

How To Deal With Psychological Side Effects Of Cancer

Keep in mind that everyone is different; coping mechanisms that work for you might not work for someone else. However, it can be helpful to implement some of these ways to find out if they will help you personally.


Anxiety Caused By Cancer

Feelings of anxiety can include frustration, anger, nervousness, fear, worry, tension, stress, and a state of excessive uneasiness. If you have been diagnosed with cancer then it is likely that you have felt one or more of these feelings. There are a few things you can try in order to fight off the anxiety that could take over your mind.

- Write your feelings of uneasiness down in a journal.

- Take deep breaths when you feel you are experiencing excessive anxiety.

- Connect with others that have positive attitudes.

- Practice positive thinking even when you don't feel like it.

- Make time to relax. Hint: find something that relaxes you or relives stress and do it!

- Contact your doctor if you feel your anxiety is a danger to your health.


Seeing A Therapist

Depression can make you feel hopeless, sad, uninterested in activities you used to enjoy, unable to get out of bed, isolated, and fatigued without relief. Depression can lead to more serious health complications like weight loss, decrease in immune system, self-harm, and other poor choices that affect your health. Here are a few ideas on dealing with depression.

- Contact your doctor for a referral to a counselor or therapist.

- Partake in activities that release serotonin. For example, spending more time in the sunshine, exercising, and watching feel-good movies. 

- Keep a gratitude journal. 

- Continue to participate in social settings that have helped you thrive in the past.


Support Group

When you are diagnosed with cancer you may experience denial of your diagnosis. Denial is a normal reaction to cancer, however it can affect participation in your treatment plan if you tell yourself you are fine when really it is best to take action. Many WhatNexters say that they experienced more success when they got help processing their diagnosis. Some ways to cope with denial could be:

- Joining a support group for people with cancer so you can talk through your diagnosis.

- Asking your doctor for information on your disease and reading it to learn more yourself.

- Journal about your thoughts.

- Tell yourself "I do have cancer" but then follow up with telling yourself you can and will fight it to the best of your ability.

- Talk to survivors or connect with others on WhatNext that have been through the same feelings of denial.


Mental Difficulties Of Cancer

Worry is an everyday struggle for people with and without cancer. It is easy to worry about anything, but when you have cancer worry can work overtime on your mind. Whether it be over scans, an upcoming surgery, or how loved ones will react to cancer, there are a few things to try and keep worries at bay.

- Start a worry box or jar where you write down your concerns then tuck them away out of sight.

- Focus on things you can control such as eating habits, exercise, hobbies, and other daily responsibilities and do not dwell on the things you cannot control. 

- If you are a spiritual person, explore faith in a higher being so you can give your worries up.

- Avoid downtime where you can get stuck worrying in your mind. Consider taking up a hobby or getting together with loved ones for a meal or visit. 

- Dialogue with someone about your worries. Whether it is a friend, loved one, counselor, your doctor, or cancer survivor, sometimes it can help to simply say your worries aloud and know that someone is there to support you.

Have you been experiencing any psychological or emotional side effects of cancer? Did these feelings hit you before, during or after your battle? Lastly, what would you tell others that are currently experiencing these feelings? Feel free to comment and share below in order to show support to others.

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