Mental and emotional wellbeing

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Being diagnosed and living with prostate cancer can affect your mood, thoughts, and emotions. You may experience a range of emotions – some may feel stronger than usual and harder to manage. It’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Your own feelings may change daily, hourly, or even minute to minute.

It's normal to feel like you have to be strong and protect your loved ones. Your friends and family may also have some of the same feelings. So sharing your thoughts and feelings can help you and your loved ones. It’s sometimes difficult to talk to people close to you and you may find it easier to talk to someone you don’t know. Talking about your feelings and working through your emotions can help to lower stress levels and improve your emotional, mental and physical health. 

I continue to look after my mind, body, soul and emotions, and ask others for help when I’m feeling low.

Anxiety

It is normal to feel anxious at times. Anxiety can be a feeling of fear, worry, unease or dread. Anxiety will feel different from person to person and can cause a variety of mental and physical symptoms. These may include:

  • feeling nervous or tense
  • increased heart rate and breathing
  • feeling restless and difficulty concentrating
  • problems getting and staying asleep
  • low mood or even depression.

To find out more about anxiety and its symptoms visit the NHS Website

Many men with prostate cancer will have symptoms of anxiety at some point in their lifetime. It could be during their diagnosis, treatment or even after treatment. Anxiety is often triggered by events, thoughts and feelings. These may include: 

  • fear or worry about appointments, treatment and side effects
  • living with side effects – for example, if you have urinary problems after treatment for prostate cancer, you may feel anxious about using public toilets. Hot flushes in public can also make you feel self-conscious and trigger anxiety.
  • worries about your prostate cancer spreading or returning after treatment
  • fear for your family or financial situation
  • fear of dying.

Anxiety can have a big impact on your daily life and relationships. That’s why it’s important to talk about how you are feeling. And opening up about what is making you anxious can help. Your medical team can help answer some of your questions, worries or fears about your diagnosis and treatment.

There are things you can do to help yourself. Our tips on managing stress and anxiety can help you to feel more relaxed and in control. If you feel your anxiety is getting worse, speak to your GP or hospital doctor. They can get you the help you need. 

You can also visit Anxiety UK. They have free online resources, helpline services, support groups and courses.

Depression

When you have prostate cancer, you may feel sad and down at times. This could be when you’re diagnosed, during your treatment or after your treatment. Everyone can feel down at times but if you have feelings of sadness, irritability and hopelessness most of the time, you could be depressed.

Depression can cause a variety of symptoms that can make carrying out your normal daily life more difficult. Symptoms of depression can include: 

  • losing interest in activities you normally enjoy doing
  • not wanting to be around or interact with friends and family
  • low mood, feeling irritable or hopeless
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • changes in appetite
  • problems sleeping
  • problems with concentration and memory.

It’s important to tell your doctor or nurse if:

  • you experience any symptoms of depression for most of the day and
  • they don’t go away after 2 weeks.

 They can make sure you get the support or treatment you need.

Men with side effects such as fatigue and pain, and those diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer may be at higher risk of depression. If you have been diagnosed with depression in the past, you may also be at higher risk. Some treatments for prostate cancer, such as hormone therapy and chemotherapy, can also increase your risk of depression. Hormone therapy can make you feel more emotional and down. It can also cause changes in your mood, such as getting tearful and then angry.

 

What can help?

Feeling anxious, low in mood, depressed or like you don’t have control of your emotions can affect how you feel about yourself. It can also affect your relationships with others. But there are things that can help improve your mental and emotional wellbeing.

 

Speaking to someone

Living with anxiety and depression can affect your concentration. This can make it hard for you to understand new information about your cancer, or make decisions about your treatment. Talk to your doctor or nurse and take time to make sure you have all the information you need before making any big decisions.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health condition, you should continue with your treatment as planned, unless told otherwise by your medical team. Keep an eye on your thoughts and feelings. If you feel you are developing new or worse symptoms, speak to your GP or mental health support worker, if you have one.

If you are struggling to cope with your feelings and don’t know who to talk to, you can call the Samaritans' 24-hour helpline, or visit the Samaritans website for information and support. You can also visit the Grassroots website for support and information on suicide prevention.

You could contact an organisation like Anxiety UK or Mind. If your anxiety is linked to your prostate cancer, you could also contact our Specialist Nurses. We’re here to support you. 

I was very anxious, but I spoke to the nurse and she made me feel very reassured. I'm in a much happier state now.

Counselling

It’s sometimes difficult to talk to people close to you. Some people find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know. Counselling can help you talk about your feelings. Counsellors are trained to listen and can help you find your own ways to deal with things. Many hospitals have counsellors or psychologists who specialise in helping people with cancer – ask your doctor or nurse if this is available.

We are piloting a free counselling service for men with a prostate cancer diagnosis and their partners. Call our specialist nurses find out more and to discuss whether counselling is right for you. 

You can also refer yourself for counselling on the NHS website, or you could see a private counsellor. To find out more, contact the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.

If you feel counselling isn’t right for you, or you’re already getting mental health support from somewhere else, our emotional support handbook might be more suitable for you.

Anti-depressants

If you are feeling depressed, anti-depressant medicines may help. Your GP or doctor will discuss this option with you. Before you start taking any anti-depressants, make sure you tell your GP, doctor or nurse at the hospital about any other medicines or complementary therapies you’re taking. Anti-depressant medicines can sometimes take a few weeks to start working. Until you start feeling better, you may want to try other things as well, such as counselling or meditation.

For more ways to manage your emotional and mental wellbeing, visit Every Mind Matters. Every Mind Matters offers free, personalised tips and resources designed to help people take steps to improve their mental health and support others.

References

Updated November 2021 | Due for review November 2023

  • Anxiety [Internet]. https://www.apa.org. [cited 2021 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Anxiety disorders. 2014.
  • De Sousa A, Sonavane S, Mehta J. Psychological aspects of prostate cancer: a clinical review. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2012 Jun;15(2):120–7.
  • The British Psychological Society. UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION: why adults experience depression and what can. S.l.: BPS BOOKS; 2020.
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Depression in adults: recognition and management. 2009;53.
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Depression in adults with a chronic physical health problem: recognition and management. 2009.
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Treating depression in adults. 2009.