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How can cancer affect my mental health?

Cancer can affect your mental health by causing you to feel angry, sad, afraid and worried. Finding out you have cancer and need chemotherapy are scary things. With cancer, it’s normal to feel angry, sad, afraid and worried at times, and it really helps to tell others how you feel, so that they can help you along the way. Knowing you are not alone can help. There are others having chemotherapy, and going through the same things as you. Your family and healthcare team will work hard to help you.

Approximately half of all patients with terminal or advanced cancer suffer with poor mental health. Specifically, depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorders plague people with advanced or terminal cancer. While half of terminally ill or advanced cancer patients suffer from depression, anxiety and/or an adjustment disorder, less than half of cancer patients receive treatment for their mental health.

The relationship between cancer and depression is complex. Depression may be triggered by the diagnosis of cancer, other issues related to the cancer and its treatment, or the impact of the cancer on a person's life. However, depression may occur by chance or be related to other difficult events, either in the past or in the present, which have nothing to do with cancer, such as the loss of a loved one.

Adequate recognition and treatment of depression in patients with cancer can enhance quality of life and help patients and families make the best use of their remaining time together.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.