Dealing with Mental Health with a Cancer Diagnosis

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Any medical diagnosis can cause an emotional impact, and a cancer diagnosis is a prime example. When hearing the words “you have cancer” you may experience feelings of shock, sadness, worry, anger, nausea, or anxiety, just to name a few. While many people focus on the physical sensations that cancer patients experience due to cancer treatments, it is important that we not forget about the emotional and mental side of it as well.

Possible Mental Health Changes

If you have received a cancer diagnosis and have a history of mental health issues, substance abuse, or trauma, it is vital that you let you share this information with your healthcare team.  It is also important to inform all current providers of your cancer diagnosis, as they may make changes to current medication doses.

If you do not have a history of mental health issues, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the mental and emotional changes that may occur with a cancer diagnosis. These include:


Anxiety is described as a feeling of fear, dread, or uneasiness. Symptoms may include muscle tension, shaking or trembling, restlessness, irritability, anxious facial expressions, uncontrolled worry, trouble focusing, dry mouth, and more.


Depression is a medical illness that negatively affects how you think, feel, and act. It can cause feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, feelings of hopelessness, sleep changes, major weight loss or gain, trouble focusing, frequent thoughts of suicide or death, wide mood swings, fatigue, and more.


Distress is an unpleasant emotion, thought, feeling, condition, or behavior. Research shows that distress can affect the way you make decisions, including your decisions regarding your health. Signs and symptoms of serious distress include feelings of overwhelm and panic, feeling a sense of dread, irritability, poor concentration, trouble eating, feeling hopeless, thoughts of death, questioning faith and beliefs, and more.

Mental Health Resources

If you are experiencing any mental health issues following your cancer diagnosis, you do not have to suffer in silence. There are a variety of mental health resources that can provide support and relief. Some of these may include speaking with a professional, talking with cancer survivors, and medications if needed.

It is important to understand that some degree of mental and emotional change is inevitable when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Finding ways to manage those feelings can be very helpful in helping you to live the best life physically ad emotionally possible.

Schedule an Appointment

If you are experiencing feelings and thoughts that are concerning, please share them with your medical team. Our team can offer recommendations regarding mental health resources. At Carnegie Women’s Health, we provide a number of cancer screening options to help keep patients healthy. To learn more about our screening options, please contact us today.

You can also learn more about cancer genetics at our podcast, Healthful Woman Podcast.

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Carnegie Women's Health

At Carnegie Women’s Health, we’re more than just a gynecological practice. We’re partnered with some of the most experienced and award-winning obstetricians and maternal fetal medicine specialists in the field of women’s health.

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