When anxiety or sadness stick around

Bowel Cancer Australia

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The anxiety that can accompany a bowel cancer diagnosis has the potential to be overwhelming.

For some, that feeling can remain throughout treatment and beyond.

While most people with cancer experience symptoms of anxiety, up to 30% will experience clinically significant anxiety; depression rates among cancer patients range from 20 – 35%.

In comparison,17% of Australians in the general community will experience an anxiety or depressive disorder in a 12-month period according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Feeling scared, worried, anxious and sad when faced with a diagnosis of cancer is probably a universal experience, according to Katherine Puckett, PhD and Chief of the Mind-Body Medicine Division at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. 

“But clinical depression is different from sadness, with specific criteria and symptoms, and it may make it harder for patients to seek treatment in the first place, or to remain in treatment once it’s begun,” Ms Puckett said. 

Spotting the signs of anxiety or depression early is essential to prevent them from impacting quality of life.

Research indicates mental health problems can impact physical health outcomes, including how patients respond to treatment.

“Seek support early. Use every service that is made available to you,” said Chris, who experienced depression following his bowel cancer diagnosis five years ago, at the age of 54.

“Most importantly - be kind to yourself!” Chris said.

Resources are available to support you or someone you know dealing with the psychological effects associated with bowel cancer. No one needs to face their problems alone.

Talking to friends and partners can help, but you may also want to ask your GP or specialist about additional support available, such as counsellors.

Bowel Cancer Australia's Helpline 1800 555 494 is available to anyone wishing to speak with a Bowel Care Nurse about issues or concerns relating to bowel cancer.

Uniquely trained, our Bowel Care Nurses provide much-needed support for bowel cancer patients and their families across the continuum of care.

For patients and loved ones interested in being connected with someone who has gone through a similar experience, speak with a Bowel Care Nurse about our Peer-to-Peer Support Network, Australia's only national bowel cancer support group for bowel cancer patients and loved ones.

You can also contact the Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 224 636.

If you need help immediately, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14


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