Anxiety, Fear, and Depression

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Support from loved ones and the cancer team can help

It may help to know that patients with more social support tend to feel less anxious and depressed and report a better quality of life. People with cancer find it encouraging to have others who listen and help with the practical aspects of dealing with cancer. Asking family members and loved ones for this kind of support may help reduce the patient’s distress and the distress of those who care about him or her.

Being able to talk with the cancer care team about medical fears, concerns about pain, and other issues may also help the patient feel more comfortable. Someone who is close to the patient might offer to go with (or take) them to the doctor. Being with them may have a calming effect, and that person might be able to help the patient remember symptoms or problems that need to be addressed. The doctor and cancer care team can answer questions and talk about any concerns you have. They can also refer the patient to a mental health professional if needed.

Depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems can nearly always be helped with a combination of medicines, support groups, or psychotherapy. But first, a person must recognize that they need help dealing with their emotions and their responses to the major changes that cancer brings to their lives. In the confusion and stress that come after a diagnosis of cancer, the emotional problems of both people with cancer and those around them can often become fairly serious before they’re recognized.


Last Medical Review: 09/20/2013
Last Revised: 09/20/2013