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Cancer and Depression: Dealing with a Terminal Diagnosis

Feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression associated with a terminal illness or cancer diagnosis are common because a serious illness affects not just your physical health, but your emotional health too. Many new stressors contribute to these feelings such as anxiety and frustration with treatment and the side effects, feelings of helplessness as the contribution to the household lessens from inability to go to work, and even insecurity and depression as body image changes.

Although these feelings may be natural, they can be dealt with and there are many methods to cope. Here are just a few ways in which you can fight against terminal illness depression each of which can help to create balance and calmness throughout the day.

Sticking to a Routine

After a terminal illness diagnosis, all aspects of life are affected and can contribute to feelings of helplessness. Creating a new routine that works for you and your family reinforces feelings of normalcy and a sense of self-control. Assigning small responsibilities can help motivate you to do activities you wouldn’t normally feel energized to do and after accomplishing, can positively affect your mood and dispel feelings of impotence.

Routines are a way to introduce certainty into your life. With a terminal illness such as late-stage cancer, symptoms may be unexpected and are prone to change suddenly. Depending on the illness, you may feel owned by it. With a routine, you can influence that your day will go as planned.

Reach Out for Social Support

Having a strong support system of people you love and trust can combat feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are common symptoms of depression. Patients who have a reliable support system report a better quality of life with less anxiety and feelings of depression. Confiding in loved ones is a great way to relieve yourself of your concerns and thoughts and finding a good listener can even help you feel better or more confident. Reaching out to loved ones can also strengthen current relationships while making both people feel loved and connected.


Prescribing anti-depressants for some cancer patients may work, but is sometimes not appropriate for certain illnesses and are not safe to mix with other medications. Check with your oncologist first to see if a medication for your depression or anxiety can be safely added to your regimen. When anti-depressants cannot or are not desired to be added to treatment, psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy or commitment therapy can be effective to combating depression.

No matter what steps are taken to combat these feelings, if symptoms are severe, you or your loved one should see a mental health professional as clinical depression should not be dealt with without consulting a doctor.

When Your Finances Are Causing Stress and Depression

The costs associated with a chronic illness and treatment can be unmanageable. Getting proper treatment and maintaining a comfortable quality of life shouldn’t be threatened by lack of finances and inability to afford a proper treatment plan. If you need financial assistance due to cancer or other terminal illness, contact Fifth Season Financial to learn how you can access funds from your life insurance policy while still preserving funds for your beneficiaries.

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