When facing a diagnosis of cancer there are many emotions patients go through and many questions. One common question is “is it normal to be depressed?” The answer is not a simple one; but we can explore the question a little deeper here.
At the time of diagnosis, there is a spectrum of emotions that patients (and their loved ones) feel, but most commonly they experience feelings of sadness, worry and difficulty sleeping. This is emphasized even more when there is difficulty, long waiting during testing or a missed diagnosis.
Once a diagnosis is made patients are worried about the future and begin to ask questions and consider how the disease and treatment will affect their lives, families, jobs and their future.
Once a treatment plan is in place, many patients feel some confidence restored. At this stage, the physician and medical team are often able to help restore hope to the patient and their loved ones. Well informed patients also feel less anxious and worried, as they know what to expect.
Treatment has its ups and downs and this is reflected in the patients mood. Often therapy agents can affect the patient’s mood, as can the side effects of treatment, such as sleep deprivation or chronic fatigue. Treatment also may have numerous affects on the body such as hair loss, difficulty with concentration, lack of energy, even decreased libido, all which impact the patient’s mood.
Throughout the entire process, the patient’s circle of support continues to be very important and each patient is unique so there truly is no “normal” emotional response to cancer and cancer treatment.