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What can help manage emotional changes

Some of the things that might help manage emotional changes due to breast cancer include:

  • relaxation – can help to control pain
  • muscle relaxation and imagery – can help with anxiety and can help reduce nausea and vomiting
  • support groups – some women find it helpful to meet with other people in the same situation to share their experiences, concerns and fears; meetings can be face-to-face or held over the telephone or internet
  • counselling – counselling with a trained health professional can help to clarify feelings and help women deal with issues that may have been brought up by their diagnosis and treatment.

Antidepressants and breast cancer

Up to half of women with early breast cancer will experience some degree of depression or anxiety. If this is severe or doesn’t settle over time, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication can be very effective, in combination with other treatments such as relaxation therapy.

There’s no evidence that anti-depressants are addictive, and most people will only require this medication for a few months, but sometimes it can be longer depending on the individual woman’s situation. Most of the medication for anxiety will only be used for a few weeks. Needing medication doesn’t mean a woman is ‘weak’ or ‘crazy’, and many people who have taken medication feel so much better that they wish they had started treatment earlier.