The onset of cancer and its diagnosis, are usually sudden and frightening events. While modern medicine has many very effective medical and surgical treatments for cancer, the emotional impact of the disease on the sufferer, and on his or her partner, are often under-recognised or under-treated.
Being told that one has cancer is undoubtedly a major stress. For people who may always have been somewhat anxious, or pessimistic people, the impact of the stress is magnified. If at all possible, it helps to be as logical as possible about the problems and the fears, and seek assistance from family, friends and doctors in working out what solutions are available. Very often, writing down the fears, and the options available for solving them, will lessen the impact of the stresses.
For people who have always been perfectionists and set very high standards for themselves and for others, it can be even more frightening to find they have a condition over which they cannot exert the control they have always sought in life in general. Reminding oneself that the treating professionals are highly trained and highly responsible individuals may make it easier to accept being at the mercy of professional skills and judgement. For many people, and especially for perfectionists, clear cut explanations are important, rather than vague possibilities and vague hopes being expressed by the treating doctor.
The fact remains that at least one third of people with cancer will develop depressive illness as a complication. While the temptation is to believe that every mental and physical symptom you have is due to your cancer or due to its treatment, it is worth keeping in mind the high rate of the development of depression. Treating depression as well as treating the cancer will produce the best quality of life for you, and for those around you. You may find it useful to complete the questionnaire on depressive illness on this website, and bring it with you to your doctor, to discuss.
It is far better to have a trial of one or two antidepressant treatments than to assume every symptom is an unchangeable result of your cancer.
For very many people, learning relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, tai chi etcetera, all help considerably in staying as calm as possible in the face of the stress of having cancer. Keeping anxiety levels low, either using these techniques, or by taking antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications, markedly reduces the risk of developing depressive illness. It is likely, but not yet conclusively proven, that staying free of anxiety and depression also improves the physical outcome of your illness.
Important Disclaimer: This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.