Recover Overcoming Treatment Depression
After your breast cancer treatment ends, you may have a range of emotions to sort through. Whether it’s anger, fear, sadness, tension or nervousness, it is important to pay attention to what you’re feeling and be aware of how it affects you and your recovery.
For most survivors, these feelings dissipate over time. For others, they can often become more serious. When there is no improvement and these emotions interfere with your daily life, then it may be a medical condition called depression. For some, cancer treatment may have added to this problem by changing the way the brain works.
Depression, along with anxiety and loneliness, is not uncommon for breast cancer survivors. It is a psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, absence of pleasure, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness and maybe even thoughts of death. If you're experiencing these symptoms, it's extremely important that you discuss them with your doctor, who will recommend a course of action.
How do you overcome this?
First of all, you shouldn’t be reluctant to tell your doctor about any emotional distress you’re experiencing. Your emotional well-being is vital to your recovery. Often, your oncologists and other members of your medical team may not have the skills needed to recognize emotional problems. It may be up to you to take charge of your emotional well-being.
Once your treatment ends, you may miss the support of your healthcare team and feel as if your safety net has been taken away. It's normal to experience a sense of isolation after treatment, even from family and friends. You know that they want to help, but they may not know exactly how. You may feel that only others who have had breast cancer can understand your feelings.
If this is the case, then, in addition to discussing this with your doctor, you may want to take advantage of support services. There are a variety of ways in which you can receive support. There’s one-on-one counseling and peer support, as well as support groups. The important thing is to determine what type of support works best for you so that you can get just what you need. While support groups may work for some survivors, others may prefer one-to-one contact with their friends, fellow survivors, or other support source.
There are many organizations that offer support for cancer survivors and their families, such as Gilda’s Club and the Cancer Support Community in locations around the country. You can also locate support services in your area provided by the American Cancer Society by going to find support and CancerCare’s support groups
In addition, the Breast Cancer Network of Strength has a great program called Your Shoes, a 24/7 Breast Cancer Support Center. It is the only round-the-clock toll-free confidential hotline staffed exclusively by trained peer counselors who are breast cancer survivors. These peer counselors are experienced in handling all types of questions related to breast cancer and can talk with you about your feelings and concerns. Call them at 1-800-221-2141 or email your questions to Your Shoes Support Center.
For more information on support services, go to Breast Cancer Partner’s resources.