For many people anxiety is one of the biggest side-effects of a cancer diagnosis.
Anxiety is not just an issue for the person diagnosed; the carer, spouse and family members can be equally affected.
Anxiety is not trivial. High levels of anxiety can have a significant impact on your quality of life and in serious cases can affect the outcomes of your treatment.
It is for everyone’s benefit to understand anxiety and learn how to manage it.
- Anxiety is normal.
- Anxiety involves both physical and mental systems in our bodies
- Anxiety can help or hinder, it’s a matter of degree.
- Anxiety at a low levels can help deal with different situations in our daily lives
- Anxiety at high levels can impede rational thinking and affect your physical health
The Vicious Cycle
Above a certain level, anxiety can roll into a vicious cycle.
High Stress -> Physical Symptoms -> Worrying Thoughts About the Symptoms -> Increased Stress…
When Anxiety is a Problem
It is important to understand how this cycle works in order to be able to address it.
This extract (PDF) from the The Mental Health Handbook by Trevor Powell explains in straight-forward language how anxiety can grow to cause distress and how to recognise the symptoms and the processes involved. Please take a few minutes to read it. In the fight against anxiety, knowledge is power:
When Anxiety is a Problem(PDF)
Reducing anxiety to a level that you can comfortably handle is a matter of process.
Recognising the symptoms and acknowledging the presence of rising anxiety can be your trigger to doing something about it.
After all, if you are undergoing treatment for cancer you have enough to cope with already without having to deal with unnecessary anxiety.
This leaflet explains methods and strategies for managing high anxiety:
Anxiety & Anxiety Management(PDF)
There are many ways of reducing stress to help anxiety levels.
Asking for Help
If you feel that anxiety is overwhelming you, do not be afraid to ask for help.
It may be as simple as talking to your family and asking them to help you to research and manage your anxiety.
Local cancer support groups are a great help for many people. Just meeting other people who have been through the same journey can help you.
Research has shown that a significant proportion of cancer patients would benefit from professional psychological help.
Recognising that you have high anxiety levels is the first step in the right direction.
If you feel that you are unable to address the anxiety on your own and would like help, then explore some of these options:
- NHS IAPT (Improved Access to Psychological Therapies)
- National Cancer Charities (MacMillan’s, Maggie’s, Cancer Support, Penny Brohn, etc)
- Local Cancer Charities
- Cancer Peer Support Groups Online
You Can Help:
Tell us about your experience and add to this Knowledge Base.
What helps you overcome anxiety?
Did you find help from the NHS or a charity?
Send your story to us – email
Contributor: Stephen Rowley