Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety is one of the most common emotional responses to illness, and it’s a natural reaction. Questions like ‘How will I cope?’, ‘What’s going to happen?’, ‘Will I get better?’ and ‘Will the treatment work?’ may go through your mind. Anxious feelings may be present all the time, or they may come and go. They can also vary in how severe and disruptive they are. Anxiety may show as physical symptoms such as:
- A dry mouth
It can be easy to confuse the symptoms of your illness, with the symptoms of anxiety. Being anxious on top of being unwell can also make your symptoms worse.
Dealing with anxiety
When anxiety levels are high, the symptoms can be difficult to control, and you may feel that you’re having a ‘panic attack’. Learning controlled breathing and relaxation techniques can help you to manage these attacks. Your doctor will be able to help you to work out whether your symptoms are related to anxiety and may prescribe medication to help. Understanding the reason for your symptoms can be reassuring, but if you’re still very anxious, try talking to your nurse or doctor. For some people, seeing a trained counsellor can help. Hospice in the Weald has a team of trained counsellors who can see you or any member of your family. These feelings are very common, so don’t be embarrassed to discuss them to check whether your fears and concerns are justified and can be alleviated. Often just discussing your concerns makes things seem better.
Some people become depressed as a result of being unwell or coping with symptoms. Everyone can feel down or anxious at times, but sometimes these feelings don’t go away and can start to affect your everyday life. Common symptoms of depression include:
- Not being able to enjoy anything
- Feeling low or sad for several days in a row
- A lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness.
Depression often comes on gradually. The first step to feeling better is getting appropriate help. If you or your family think that you may be depressed, discuss this with your GP or nurse. They will be able to tell you about the different treatments that can help.
Counselling or talking therapies can help you to express your emotions and clarify your feelings about what’s happening in your life. Trained counsellors, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists all deal with talking therapies. For some people they can be as effective as antidepressants or sedatives.
There are different types of talking therapy, available for our patients, their families and carers. To find out more about the Counselling & Support Service, click here
Medicines for depression
Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to help lift your mood. Antidepressants work slowly, so you won’t usually notice any improvement in your symptoms for a few weeks. Your doctor may have to try more than one drug to find the one that suits you best.