Our nurse Lee Burgess looks at mental health and breast cancer and provides information for support if you feel you are suffering from depression.
As a Helpline nurse I often hear from women who are feeling low in mood after a diagnosis of breast cancer. It’s normal to feel shocked and upset when you receive such news, and it’s common to experience days when you feel down while you’re going through treatment. The effects of treatment can be tiring and may last for some while.
Getting outdoors on the brighter days and, in particular, taking exercise can help lift your mood if you’ve got the winter blues.
Am I depressed?
Generally, feeling down or low in mood tends to lift after a few days or so but if you’re continually feeling sad or lacking in energy and zest for life, or if you’re having problems with concentration or sleeping, it could be due to depression.
Depression is more common than you might think, with one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year.
Asking for help
It’s important to talk to someone if you're struggling to get out of a low mood, such as:
- Your GP (local doctor) to find out what help is available
- A friend or family member
- Someone who has had a similar experience of breast cancer to you through our Someone Like Me service
- Our online community on our safe and welcoming Forum.
Struggling after treatment
Many people find they start to feel low after their initial treatment finishes. If you're struggling to find your new 'normal', you may like to try:
- Our free Moving forward courses, helping you adapt to life after breast cancer
- BECCA, our free app with tips on life beyond treatment, including mindfulness and personal stories
- Speaking to your breast care nurse to find a local counselling service or support group
- NHS Choices Moodzone, which offers practical advice and tips on self-help techniques to help relieve stress, anxiety or depression.
Looking after your mind as well as your body
Taking time to look after your mind as well as your body can be difficult, but is essential to your physical health. These charities UK charities offer support and guidance for mental health:
- You can speak to our nurses about any concerns on our Helpline or by email
- Mind (a mental health charity for England and Wales)
- Anxiety UK
- SAMH (the Scottish Association for Mental Health)
- AWARE (the national depression charity for Northern Ireland)
For emotional support specific to having had cancer, you can also find one-to-one counselling, group sessions, courses and complementary therapies through these organisations:
- Breast Cancer Care support services
- Breast Cancer Haven
- Tenovus Cancer Care
- Cancer Support Scotland
- Cancer Focus Northern Ireland
- Macmillan, where you can search what's in your area.
Speak to our nurses
If you need any more information, or just want to talk to someone about how you are feeling, you can contact us free on 0808 800 6000.
We’re here to listen and to answer your questions, big or small.