Anxiety is a feeling of fear or uneasiness. Mild anxiety is part of every day life. You might feel anxious before you take a test or attend an important meeting at work. This kind of anxiety can help you by making you more alert or careful. Mild anxiety goes away after you're out of the situation that caused it.
If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, you might feel anxious, angry, and sad all at the same time. It's normal to be afraid of something that can threaten your life.
Anxiety can be made worse by certain breast cancer treatments, including:
- hormonal therapy:
- pain medications
If your anxiety is caused by medicines to treat breast cancer, it may get worse over time. You might have chest pains, trouble sleeping, or nightmares.
If you feel anxious all the time and can't relax, talk to your doctor. Antidepressant medicines, such as Paxil (chemical name: paroxetine) or Effexor (chemical name: venlafaxine), may help. Together, you and your doctor can decide if an antidepressant is right for you.
If you are taking tamoxifen, talk to your doctor about which antidepressants are safe for you to take. Some antidepressants -- including Paxil, Wellbutrin (chemical name: bupropion), Prozac (chemical name: fluoxetine), Cymbalta (chemical name: duloxetine), and Zoloft (chemical name: sertraline) -- interfere with the body's ability to convert tamoxifen into its active form, preventing you from getting the full benefit of tamoxifen. For more information, please visit the Tamoxifen page.
Some complementary and holistic medicine techniques have been shown to reduce anxiety, including:
- guided imagery
- music therapy
- progressive muscle relaxation
- support groups
- tai chi
Other ways you can ease anxiety:
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Limit or avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
- Spend time with people who make you laugh and have fun.
To connect with others managing anxiety, visit the Breastcancer.org Discussion Board Relationships, Emotional Crises, Anxiety, and Depression forum.