If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer you may experience a range of emotions, including stress, sadness, fear and anger. If you are feeling these emotions intensely – and for long stretches of time – you may be experiencing depression.
Depression is common amongst people with breast cancer. In fact, up to 50 per cent of people with early breast cancer experience depression or anxiety within the first year of their diagnosis.
Depression can make it hard to carry out your day-to-day tasks. It can also make you feel like you don’t want to participate in activities that you usually enjoy.
When you have breast cancer, there can be many changes in your life that may make you feel stressed or anxious. This may lead to depression.
These life changes may include:
Depression is an illness. It is treatable and the earlier you seek help, the quicker your recovery will be. If you are feeling anxious, or think you may have depression, talk to your GP right away.
Some GPs have specialist training and can provide psychological treatment. If not, your GP can refer you to a specialist such as a psychologist, social worker, counsellor or psychiatrist.
Talk to your doctor about whether you are eligible for treatment under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan. This will entitle you to up to 10 Medicare-subsidised appointments with a clinical psychologist, appropriately trained GP, social worker or clinical occupational therapist.
In addition to seeking help from specialists, you may feel that you can make some positive steps to help manage the change in your life and your feelings.
If you are feeling anxious, stressed or depressed, the following approaches may help:
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