Anxiety and Breast Cancer

Many people who have breast cancer experience anxiety. There is a lot of stress and worrying involved when someone has cancer. From diagnosis through treatment, and even when the disease is in remission anxiety is often present. Learn a little about it and how to cope with the feeling here:

Cancer is a very stressful situation for a lot of people. When your body realizes it is "under attack," you may find that you are more alert and constantly aware of your surroundings. This is similar to the fight or flight response. Your body is on guard for further traumatic experiences (after surgery or even diagnosis) and that can make you more prone to being nervous and anxious. You may find yourself thinking a lot about what is happening and what is yet to come. Even after you have undergone treatment and heard the word "remission," you may still have anxiety about the cancer coming back. This is completely normal, as many women feel this way. Anxiety is healthy, it means your body is reacting as it should. It can be very helpful, however, to learn coping strategies to calm yourself down and help you sleep. 

A very common way of coping with cancer-related anxiety is called emotion-focused strategies. According to the National Cancer Institute these methods include six things:

  • Being honest with your emotions
  • Being aware of your feelings
  • Avoiding judgment of your feelings and accepting them as they are
  • Articulating your emotions to others
  • Being willing to work through the feeling of anxiety
  • Accepting support from others who are willing to listen and help

Try these methods when you are experiencing a moment of great anxiety – perhaps as you are undergoing treatment and dealing with unpleasant side effects or immediately after a diagnosis when you are filled with questions. Accepting your emotions and allowing others to help you can greatly reduce your stress and anxiety levels.

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