Mental Health and Breast Cancer

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 26 March 2021

Sadness and Depression

Your feelings might be affected by your breast cancer experience. At different times, you can feel tired, frustrated, angry, or depressed. Depression is a frequent side effect of breast cancer treatment. Chemotherapy, hormone treatment, and certain pain relievers may all contribute to or exacerbate these emotions.

The below are symptoms that you are depressed:

  • Sadness
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Thoughts of suicide

Consult the doctor if you are experiencing depressive symptoms. They will assist you in determining if the symptoms are related to stress or severe exhaustion. They may be able to replace one or more of your prescriptions for you. Complementary medicine, such as meditation or art therapy, can be suggested. They can prescribe antidepressants or refer you to a psychiatrist if required.

You may find it impossible to adhere to your cancer treatment if you are depressed. It’s important to have control of your emotions so that they don’t overpower you. There are a few simple exercises you should do, one at a time, to make yourself feel better:

  • Bear in mind that the feelings can and will change.
  • Take a walk, enjoy your favourite TV show, or work on a puzzle to help you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Get some exercise done.
  • Avoid sugary, refined foods, and alcohol by eating a nutritious diet.
  • Spend time with a friend or loved one every day.
  • Whether it’s a friend, a loved one, or a psychiatrist, find someone with whom you can talk to.
  • Don’t put so much pressure on yourself: You won’t be able to do anything you did before cancer at the same pace. Break chores down into manageable chunks and engage the help of others wherever possible.
  • Delay major changes like changing careers or getting married until you’re in a better mood.

Palliative Treatment

Symptoms and side effects are caused by both breast cancer and the treatment you receive for it. Palliative care, which relieves discomfort and emotional distress, is a necessary aspect of the recovery, even though the primary purpose of your treatment is a cure. You may get palliative treatment while continuing to get disease-specific therapy.

The type of palliative treatment you get is defined by many factors:

  • Your specific symptoms
  • Your baseline health
  • The stage of your cancer
  • Your wishes

At the start of your treatment, discuss palliative care with your doctor. As the recovery progresses, they’ll assist you in determining the type that is best for you. Medications, chemotherapy or radiation treatments to shrink tumours and ease pain, dietary changes, mental health care, stress relief, and other options could be open to you.

Complementary/Integrative medicine

This refers to practises that aren’t part of conventional medicine but can be incorporated in conjunction with it as part of the overall cancer treatment plan. It varies from complementary and holistic medicine, which is used in lieu of traditional medical care. Alternative therapies aren’t necessarily backed up with science. They are not only ineffective at treating cancer, but they can also be harmful.

Complementary medication does not explicitly treat cancer. However, it might be of help to you:

  • Reduce cancer or treatment-related complications including nausea and discomfort.
  • Reduce fear and depression
  • You’ll be more in control of the treatment.
  • Improved quality of life

These are only a handful of the many various types of complementary medicine:

  • Yoga or tai chi
  • Meditation, hypnosis, and guided imagery
  • Acupuncture
  • Creative therapy, such as painting, writing, music, or crafts
  • Massage
  • Botanicals, including herbs and cannabis

Consult a doctor before adding alternative medication into your recovery plan. When you have cancer, some almost harmless activities may be dangerous or have a negative impact on your treatment. Your doctor will recommend therapies that are ideal for you, have been shown to be effective, and can help you achieve your goals. The National Cancer Institute has a list of current clinical trials for complementary therapies at its website.


The ‘Look Good Feel Better ‘ Program

“Look Good Feel Good" is a slogan produced by the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council, and the National Cosmetology Association. This programme teaches you how to use makeup methods to enhance your appearance and self-esteem following cancer treatment.


Referenced on 26.3.2021

  1. CDC: “Breast Cancer Treatment."
  2. Novartis Oncology.
  3. Pfizer Oncology.
  4. American Cancer Society.
  5. Susan Brown, Director of Education, Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
  6. Terri Ades, RN, director of cancer information, American Cancer Society.
  7. American Cancer Society: “Detailed Guide: Breast Cancer,” “What’s new in breast cancer research and treatment?" “How is breast cancer treated?" “Surgery for breast cancer," “Radiation therapy for breast cancer," “Chemotherapy for breast cancer," “Hormone therapy for breast cancer," “Targeted therapy for breast cancer."
  8. Breast Cancer Network of Strength: “Losing your hair,” “Weight Gain,” “Lymphedema."
  9. “Treatment Side Effects,” “Shorter Radiation Regimen Causes Fewer Side Effects, Offers Better Quality of Life Than Traditional Regimen," “What Is Complementary Medicine?” “Depression.”
  10. “Contact Us.”
  11. Penn Medicine: “Penn Study: Majority of Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer in U.S. Receive Unnecessarily Long Courses of Radiation."
  12. Giordano, S. Journal of Clinical Oncology, May 2012.
  13. The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: “Accelerated partial breast irradiation."
  14. Susan G. Komen: “Tumor Profiling – Personalizing Treatment for Breast Cancer," “Late Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment."
  15. National Cancer Institute: “Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” “Clinical Trials for Complementary or Alternative Medicine Procedure(s).”
  16. Living Beyond Breast Cancer: “Complementary and integrative medicine for metastatic breast cancer.”
  17. “Breast Cancer – Metastatic: Palliative Care.”
  18. Mayo Clinic: “Cancer Treatment.”

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