The three words you’re never prepared to hear – “you have cancer”. It’s a devastating disease, and an unfortunate diagnosis that over one third of us will receive at some point in our lifetime according to the National Cancer Institute.
We’re all familiar with the physical effects that cancer and its treatments can have on us, but we so rarely talk about the mental side effects. Receiving a life changing diagnosis can lead to serious mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. While we fight to restore our physical health, it’s critical that we keep our mental health in mind as well.
Signs of Mental Illness After a Cancer Diagnosis
If you think you or a loved one is suffering from depression or anxiety after a cancer diagnosis, look for the following symptoms:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Fatigue or oversleeping
- Feeling sad or helpless
- Withdrawal from regular activities
- Suicidal thoughts
While we may experience our own mental struggles after a diagnosis, it’s also challenging to have to navigate the emotions of those we love. Your loved ones may worry about losing you, or how your diagnosis will impact their own lives. Sometimes people aren’t sure what to say or how to react to a diagnosis, and those reactions can leave us feeling isolated or even hurt.
How to Manage Your Mental Wellbeing While Living with Cancer
Gain awareness of your feelings and accept them
Be kind to yourself. You are experiencing a traumatic time in your life, and you shouldn’t judge yourself for how you feel. Remember that you are not alone and your negative emotions or struggles with mental health could improve over time.
Find support groups
Sometimes the best therapy is to find others going through the same thing. There are many support groups in Alberta, such as the Canadian Cancer Society’s online support group.
Lean on those around you
Your family and friends love you. Although they are scared too, you can lean on them for support. Spend time with those who comfort you in a way that works for you and be transparent if you do or don’t want to talk about it.
Get professional help
If you’re struggling with your mental health, seek help from a professional counsellor. In therapy, you’ll learn about strategies to cope with your diagnosis and how you can improve your mental health so that you can focus more on living life to the fullest.
Our counsellors at Your Counselling are available for free consultations and support. Book your first appointment and get started today.