It’s common for people to experience anxiety or depression due to prostate cancer; and it’s not confined to only the man with the disease. Prostate cancer can have a negative psychological impact on the caregiver/wife or partner of the man with prostate cancer, as well as his family members and close friends. A cancer diagnosis of any type triggers a wide range of initial reactions and emotions. While in some instances, it can be relief, a more typical response may include sadness, loss, fear, guilt, stigmatization, embarrassment, anger or disappointment.
Many men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, or are managing the disease, experience some level of anxiety and/or depression, which can vary depending upon many factors including the stage of the cancer, treatment, and the impact treatment side effects have on quality of life.
Recognizing and learning to cope with anxiety and depression are important in the effective management of living with prostate cancer. They not only affect a man’s quality of life, but can keep the body’s immune system from functioning at its full capacity. Additionally, they can have a negative impact on adherence to treatment regimens.
Us TOO International and CancerCare recently conducted a survey of 633 prostate cancer patients on the topic of anxiety and depression. These data may provide valuable insight into the need for anxiety and depression information and support services for the prostate cancer community. Some results follow:
Anxiety is a feeling of excessive and persistent nervousness, fear, apprehension and worrying - typically about everyday situations, or about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense fear or worry that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).
While anxiety isn’t a disease or illness, in some cases it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations. It’s considered a problem when symptoms interfere with the ability to sleep or otherwise function, more days than not over the course of a few weeks. Anxiety can keep the body’s immune system from functioning at its full capacity. Undergoing treatment for cancer is not only about healing the body. One’s state of mind, sense of hope and optimism are important to a positive treatment outcome.
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Techniques to effectively manage anxiety include talk therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, meditation, exercise, and anti-anxiety medications. Your doctor should be able to provide a referral to a counselor who can help.
CLICK HERE for survey results specific to anxiety and prostate cancer.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, despondency, dejection or loss of interest. It is important to accurately note the level of physical pain experienced with prostate cancer since pain may lead to depression.
For a person who has been diagnosed with depression by a medical or mental health professional, symptoms occur most of the day and nearly every day.
Managing depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed can be hard. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action.
It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something that's difficult and something that's impossible. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone.
Clinical techniques for managing depression include lifestyle changes to establish more connections and support, psychotherapy, including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), pharmacological treatment and, in advanced situations, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).
If you are experiencing thoughts of hurting yourself or others, call 911 immediately or go to your nearest emergency room or psychiatric hospital for a crisis evaluation.
Depression hotlines offer a free and confidential service available 24 hours a day to help you start on a path toward healing. Sometimes it can be helpful to express what you are experiencing to another human being, get your feelings out to gain clarity and feel more optimistic about your future. Everything you say will remain completely anonymous and private; no one will ever have to know what you disclose.
You don't have to be depressed to call a helpline. If you are concerned about someone close to you and would like to learn more about how you can help, depression hotline numbers are a great place to start.
If your depression is leading to suicidal thoughts, call the National Hopeline to connect with a depression treatment center in your area. The Hopeline also offers a live chat feature for those who don’t want to (or are unable to) call and can dispatch emergency crews to your location if necessary.
This national hotline (24-hour, toll-free) is a valuable resource for emotional support and guidance to people in distress and are also available via a chat service and a special hotline number for the hearing impaired: 1-800-799-4889.
Depression can be managed though lifestyle changes to establish more connections and support through psychotherapy (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), pharmacological treatment and, in advanced situations, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).
CLICK HERE for survey results specific to depression and prostate cancer.
The stress and anxiety associated with a prostate cancer diagnosis can be significant enough to influence a man’s decision on treatment. In this situation, a man who could be a candidate for active surveillance might opt for treatment earlier than what might be necessary, resulting in what’s often referred to as “over-treatment.”
Treatment decisions must be appropriate to address whatever aspect of disease management is a priority for each man, after he has sufficient information on all treatment options, possible or probable side effects, and management of side effects. One man’s priority could be to do everything he can to minimize the possibility that prostate cancer will metastasize; while another man’s priority could be to do everything possible to maintain and maximize quality of life.
It is important for a man to recognize that once diagnosed with prostate cancer, the disease will unfortunately be a perpetual issue of concern and a potential source of anxiety, due to ongoing monitoring of PSA test results – at a minimum, regardless of the course of action that’s taken. While active surveillance can be emotionally exhausting, over-treatment can result in decreased quality of life managing ED and incontinence, along with the potential emotional and psychological impact of having second thoughts about the choice of treatment, which can be likened to how a hasty purchase of merchandise can result in “buyer’s remorse.”
CLICK HERE for survey results specific to anxiety and depression related to prostate cancer.
Men with prostate cancer who are under close medical surveillance reported significantly greater resilience and less anxiety over time after receiving an intervention of mindfulness meditation, according to a recently published pilot study from Northwestern Medicine.
Anxiety and depression impact not only the person with cancer, but also the caregiver. Studies find that the psychological distress of a person with cancer and their caregivers are generally parallel, although when the person with cancer received treatment, caregivers experienced more distress than the patient. Helping family members manage their distress may have a beneficial effect on the distress level of the person with cancer.
CLICK HERE for survey results specific to anxiety and depression related to prostate cancer caregivers.
Us TOO hosts a series of phone support group calls exclusively for wives and women partners of men with prostate cancer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” - Lao Tzu.
Address how the challenges of prostate cancer treatment side effects, relationship/intimacy problems, and fear of the future can leave a man feeling isolated and hopeless, and lead to depression. Understand depression, recognize the signs, and learn how to help.
Q&A will conclude the general session followed by the opportunity for a semi-private Q&A with presenter during lunch.
Presenter: Gary McClain, PhD, LMHC, CEAP
Understandably, prostate cancer can affect a man in any number of ways. Acknowledging and accepting whatever emotional response that results from a diagnosis or any situation along the treatment path is the first step in moving forward productively. It’s a matter of coming to terms with a “new normal” that was not by choice. Communicating—with your spouse/partner, loved ones, counselor, therapist, doctors—and oneself—is crucial to mitigating depression and anxiety.
If you are dealing with prostate cancer and experiencing anxiety and/or depression, know that you’re not alone. Educational resources and support services are available to help cope with anxiety and/or depression.
Many men with prostate cancer and their wives/partners have dealt with anxiety and depression. It can be helpful to attend an Us TOO prostate cancer support group to share experiences and gather information and strength from those who have successfully managed these challenges.
If you feel unable to "shake off” depression or anxiety, it can be very helpful to get into counseling or talk to your primary care physician about medication."
Following are some excellent resources for those suffering from anxiety and depression and some resources for prostate cancer support. You need not have any diagnosed condition to contact these organizations. Many are available for free private consultation, 24 hours a day.
|911||For life threatening concerns, call 911 immediately||911||NA|
|I’m Alive, National Hopeline Network||Help for severe depression (chat LINE)||1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)||https://www.imalive.org/|
|National Suicide Prevention Lifeline||Help for severe depression (call or chat)||
For the hearing impaired: 1-800-799-4889.
|National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)||Crisis helpline||800-950-6264 or text NAMI to 741741||www.nami.org|
|The Veterans Crisis Line||Suicide prevention hotline for military personnel (active duty and veterans)||1-800-273-8255 (press 1)||veteranscrisisline.net|
|Trans Lifeline||Crisis intervention and suicide prevention for transgender and non-binary individuals||
|Crisis Text Line||National crisis intervention text-message based hotline||Text HOME to 741741 in the US||www.crisistextline.org|
|Other Suicide Prevention Organizations||List of Resources||List of Numbers||http://suicideprevention.wikia.com/wiki/USA|
|Us TOO Prostate Cancer Support||Prostate cancer support groups, educational resources, one-on-one support||877-808-7866||www.ustoo.org|
|Answer Cancer Foundation||Telephone prostate cancer support groups||See call info on site||www.ancan.org/support-calls|
|CancerCare||A variety of cancer support services including individual counseling on anxiety or depression by telephone and online group counseling||800-813-4673||www.cancercare.org|
|Imerman Angels||Mentor/Peer-to-Peer Support||866-463-7626||www.imermanangels.org|
|Family Caregiver Alliance||Caregiver support||800-445-8106||https://www.caregiver.org/depression-and-caregiving|
|Inspire||Online support community||NA||https://www.inspire.com/groups/us-too-prostate-cancer/|
If you know of a resource that should be added to this page, or if you need help with issues related to prostate cancer, please call 800-808-7866 or email email@example.com.