It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Emotional reactions can range from feelings of vulnerability, sadness, loneliness, and fear of recurrence or death. Many of these emotions fade over time, but some may develop into clinical depression, intense anxiety, or panic. Having prostate cancer does not mean that you should feel fearful, sad, or depressed all the time.
- Anxiety is unease, fear, and dread caused by stress. Studies show that nearly half of all patients with cancer say they feel some anxiety and about one-fourth of cancer patients say they feel a great deal of anxiety.
- Depression is a mood disorder in which persistent feelings of sadness interfere with the ability to participate in normal activities.
Depression or anxiety can not only impact your quality of life, but they can adversely affect your ability to participate actively in treatments. For these reasons, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends cancer patients be screened for anxiety and depression. Learn more about depression and stress by watching the video below:
If you’d like to learn more information about depression, stress, or anxiety you can read Prostatepedia February 2018 issue on Stress, Depression, and Prostate Cancer here.
How can I manage depression and emotional distress?
Recognizing and learning to cope with anxiety and depression are important in the effective management of living with prostate cancer. Talk to your healthcare team if you think you are depressed or experiencing emotional distress. If left untreated, depression and anxiety can impact your quality of life. Treating mental health is as important as treating your physical body.
There are some treatment options or management strategies for depression and anxiety:
Talk to family, friends and loved ones
Share what you are feeling with you those around you to feel less alone. Many of the people around you will want to help.
Talk with a counselor, therapist, or social worker
Professional counseling can introduce you to new coping strategies to feel better about yourself and your cancer. Consider finding a therapist with experience working with cancer patients.
Try methods of relaxation
Some of these techniques can include: meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or guided visualization.
Ask your doctor about medications
There are several prescription medications available today that can help you manage your depression or anxiety.
Move and exercise as much as you can. Research shows that even minimal exercise will help you feel better both physically and emotionally.
Join a support group
Sometimes the best medicine is to talk to someone else who has gone through what you are facing. Many prostate cancer survivors find invaluable information and perspective from others who have “been there.” There are several groups that offer support groups in person, by phone, and online. Find out if there is a group through your local hospital or other agencies in your area. Many times an oncology social worker can direct you to the right resources.
- Us TOO Support Groups offers free support groups for the prostate journey. Click here to find one near you
- CancerCare offers online, telephone, and face-to-face support groups
- Cancer Support Community offers face-to-face and online support groups
- ZERO360 can provide referrals to appropriate emotional and psychosocial support services