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What Are the Emotional and Psychological Effects of Cancer?

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Anyone who knows anything about a cancer diagnosis knows the physical struggles with cancer, but few realise the emotional and psychological effects of cancer has on not only the patient but the family members as well. 

There are many ways to alleviate emotional stress, including talk therapy, but you first need to know what those effects are.

Here are a few of the effects you can expect and a few ways to cope with them as well. 


A feeling of shock is usually the first reaction to a cancer diagnosis. No matter whether you’re going to be receiving throat cancer treatment or treatment for breast cancer, shock is the number one emotion. You may not understand some of the things that your doctor says, and having to have stuff repeated is entirely normal. Some people find that talking to friends and family helps them deal with the diagnosis, while others feel that they just want to be left alone. How you deal with the shock is up to you, but you do need to talk about it at some point, either with friends and family or a professional. 


The weeks after your diagnosis can be extremely stressful for you and your loved ones. There’s going to be a lot you don’t understand and a lot to do to get ready for treatment. Make sure that your health team keeps you informed of everything every step of the way. Your friends and family can be a huge help at this time by taking some of the weight of financial and other responsibilities off your shoulders. There are many stress relievers you can try as well, so don’t forget to search for the ones that work best for you. 

Sadness and depression 

Sadness, grief, and depression are all common emotions that patients have after receiving a cancer diagnosis like renal cell carcinoma. How you deal with those emotions is key. You don’t want to shut yourself off from your loved ones, as they can be your greatest help during this trying time. If you feel your depression and sadness aren’t getting better or are overwhelming you, there are support groups and therapists who will help you. Never, ever try to battle these emotions alone.

There’s help out there; you just have to ask for it and know where to look. The signs of depression you and your loved ones need to look for are listed below:

  • Taking no pleasure or having no interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Being depressed the majority of the time
  • An inability to experience joy at all
  • An inability to concentrate on anything
  • Constant thoughts of death and thoughts of suicide
  • Changes in your sleeping and eating habits

These are a few of the more obvious symptoms of severe depression and you need to see someone if you experience them on a deep level. Help is out there. 


Fear is also a common emotion after a cancer diagnosis. Your future is uncertain and murky, and you’re not sure which way to turn. Fear of dying, the treatment itself, and fear for your family and loved ones can be overwhelming. You have to keep a positive attitude and if you feel yourself being overwhelmed by fear, don’t hesitate to ask for help from your family or the professionals in your life. 

These are just a few of the emotional and psychological effects that cancer can have on someone. All of these are normal, but you need to deal with them if you hope to have any chance of surviving to live a normal life.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.


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