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After a diagnosis of breast cancer, you may feel anxious or stressed.
Some people may experience anxiety for the first time.
If you have had anxiety in the past, your anxiety may feel different or worse than before.
There are techniques and support to help you reduce stress and cope better with anxiety.
Stress and anxiety can make you feel nervous, worried and tense.
These feelings can range from being a bit uneasy to a continuing sense of dread.
You may sometimes feel panicky and frightened.
While a full diagnosis of post-traumatic distress disorder (PTSD) is rare, you may have symptoms of PTSD such as flashbacks, feelings of detachment and feeling emotionally numb.
Physical signs of stress and anxiety include:
In some cases anxiety can become so overwhelming that it leads to panic attacks, causing further fear and worry.
Some people with stress or anxiety also have low mood or depression.
There are lots of ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
This involves learning to focus on the things around you, or a hobby or interest, so you can shut out negative thoughts.
These can be used separately or together to reduce stress and tension, relax the mind and body and help improve wellbeing.
Find out more about relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and meditation.
If you can, break down larger tasks into smaller tasks, achievable over several days, or make a list of priorities.
Counselling takes place in a private and confidential setting, either in person or online.
You’ll be able to explore feelings such as anger, anxiety and grief, which can be related to your cancer diagnosis, making them easier to understand and cope with.
CBT can help you change patterns of thinking and behaviour that may be stopping you moving forward.
Unlike some techniques, it focuses on problems and difficulties you’re having in the ‘here and now’. Instead of exploring causes of your distress or symptoms in the past, it looks for ways to improve your state of mind in the present.
If you think you might benefit from these techniques, your breast care nurse or GP may be able to advise you on how to access them.
Regular exercise, whether it’s a brisk walk or yoga, can help clear your mind and reduce your stress levels.
Drinking alcohol or smoking will not reduce stress or anxiety in the long term, and can lead to other health problems.
Some people find complementary therapies and activities such as yoga, tai chi and chi gong reduce stress and improves their mood.
If you’re finding it difficult to cope emotionally, you might want to talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
This could be someone in your treatment team, breast care nurse or your GP, who can advise you if more specialist help would be beneficial.
You can also call the Breast Cancer Now Helpline on 0808 800 6000.
You may find it useful to read 10 ways to overcome anxiety.