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There is so much that happens after someone gets diagnosed with cancer. Life-threatening illnesses like cancer affect more than a person’s physical well-being. The emotional stress that a person undergoes after a cancer diagnosis is something that should be considered as well.

Processing the news that one’s suffering from cancer is as heavy as it might sound. After all, knowing that your time to live is already limited isn’t something you can just brush off. Also, accepting the plan of care and treatment is a whole new ball game.

It is vital that patients know how to navigate this situation and focus on the recovery of their bodies and minds. Now that your body is vulnerable, you cannot risk putting your mental health in a depressive state.

Thus, cancer patients must know how to manage the stress they’ll be going through after the diagnosis. This is also applicable to the patient’s loved ones who might feel devastated by the news. But in such a dark time, how can you do that?

This article will explore all you need to know about cancer and mental health. Let’s get into it.

Understanding How Cancer Affects Mental Health

There is so much that you need to know about managing mental health after a cancer diagnosis. It is worth noting that it is usual to feel overwhelming sadness after being diagnosed with a terminal illness such as cancer. However, as one seeks treatment and care for better results, it is important to stay positive at all times.

Cancer treatments are already painful and draining on their own. Thus, it is vital to ensure that you do not get stressed and fall into depression. Knowing how to manage the stress that comes with a cancer diagnosis will make it easier to navigate the journey to recovery and help you avoid going to rehab.

It’s worth noting that you cannot walk the journey to wellness alone. You need to find a good support system to walk you through it. This can be your parents, siblings, colleagues, or anyone else that’s close to you and can offer you the support you need.

There are various things that your support system can do for you. They can enroll you in a wellness center where you can get professional help. If your mental health has become alarming, it might be tricky to handle it at home, making it vital to try detox centers.

So, how does cancer affect mental health?

It will be vital to understand how cancer can affect your mental health. This section will look at the various ways you can be affected by mental health issues if you have just been diagnosed with cancer. This will help you know what to avoid after diagnosis to prevent mental health issues.

Here are some of the ways that cancer can affect mental health.

  • Slow down recovery: This is one of the ways that cancer can affect your mental health. If you are stressed about your cancer diagnosis, it might end up being tricky to recover from the depression it’ll plunge you into. The best thing to do is to get mental health treatment.
  • Lead to other conditions: We have already mentioned that cancer can lead to various mental health issues. If you realize that you have cancer, how you handle the aftermath will be vital. You should ensure that you seek help quickly whenever you feel stressed.

Those are some of the ways that you might be affected by cancer. It is vital to note that your mental health matters a lot and, thus, you should ensure that you address any issues that might arise with it. You should start by knowing the situations that might lead to these issues.

One of the potentially stressful situations is after being diagnosed with cancer. It can make you start experiencing mental health issues that could quickly graduate to depression. You need to find ways to get past the mental challenges that you might face soon after diagnosis.

Symptoms of Mental Health Issues 

There are various symptoms of mental health issues that you should be aware of. The most common symptoms that you might notice quickly include distress, anxiety, and depression. It will be easier to handle the situation if you can positively identify these signs.

But then, there are several things you must keep in mind before concluding that you have a mental health issue. Some people enroll in mental health treatment centers when all they need is a support system and time to recover from the mental health issues they have.

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Ensure that the symptoms you’re suffering from aren’t related to cancer. It will also help to check whether they are just side effects of the cancer treatment you are receiving.

Tips for Managing Mental Health

There are various things you must know when managing mental health. This section will look into some of the tips for managing mental disorders that come up after cancer diagnosis. It will be easier to get the desired results from your efforts if you implement these tips well.

They include:

  • Start self-screening: It will help to ensure that you self-screen and are sure that you are having a mental health issue. There are websites that you can use to conduct online self-screening. You can then speak to a mental health specialist after self-screening.
  • Talk to a professional: You also need to speak to a professional even after self-screening. It isn’t a good idea to only rely on online tests because they might not be accurate. You will get more accurate results if you get tested by a qualified doctor.

Visiting a drug rehab center for a proper examination will be a great idea. But be sure to find a mental health treatment center that meets your needs.

Check if it is an inpatient or outpatient center and whether it is a residential treatment center, depending on your needs.

  • Join a support group: We have already mentioned how important a support system can be when you have mental health issues. Joining the Transcend recovery community will help you avoid getting distressed and even fall into depression.
  • Living in the present: This is something else that you must do if you want to manage your mental health issues well. There’s no need to worry about the future since that will plunge you into distress. The best thing to do will be to ground yourself in the present.
  • Keep a journal: The whole span of cancer treatment can be long, so remembering all events could be tricky. This makes it vital to ensure you keep a journal of everything happening during your recovery journey. It will be easier to monitor your recovery with a journal.

Those are some of the best tips that you can use to manage your mental health. The reality is that dealing with mental health issues while also undergoing cancer treatment isn’t easy. It will be more manageable if you implement these tips properly and have the right mindset.

Preparing for Cancer Treatment

It will also be vital to understand how you can prepare for cancer treatment. The journey to preparation can be tricky, especially if you are experiencing such issues for the first time. It is vital to be well prepared to face the challenges it brings.

You should start with proper mental preparation. It will be vital to have a cancer treatment program that includes healthy eating and being physically active. A good plan will make it easy to achieve the desired goals. It will also give you more control over your health.

It will be even easier to cope with cancer treatment, which isn’t easy for many people. Some lifestyle changes that you might need to undertake could be overwhelming.

You can adopt some of them by spending time in rehabs. An outpatient rehab will be helpful if your mental condition isn't bad. An inpatient rehab becomes vital if you have serious mental issues and are already hooked up to drugs. It will help you recover and be mentally ready to get cancer treatment.


Managing mental health after a cancer diagnosis isn’t as easy as it might look. But then, you can do it with the right tips and guidance. This article has provided all the tips you need for managing mental health issues that might come up after being diagnosed with cancer.

You now know the role mental health treatment can play after a cancer diagnosis. It won't be easy to lead a normal life after such devastating news. Some people turn to drugs because of the mental stress that follows such news. This makes them consider going to rehab.

The good news is that you can save on the money you’d have spent on alcohol rehab. It will be vital to ensure that you also have a strong support system to help you get started. This post has provided other tips for avoiding getting into mental health issues caused by cancer.

About the author:

Joni Ogle, LCSW, CSAT, Chief Executive Officer at The Heights Treatment has over 25 years of clinical experience, management, and leadership in working with adults and young adults suffering from addiction and trauma. She is a licensed clinical social worker and a certified sex addiction therapist with additional training in Recreational Therapy, Pia Mellody’s Post Induction Therapy, and Dr. Brene Brown’s The Daring Way Shame Resilience curriculum.