Coping emotionally

Women at flower shop

Most people vividly remember how they felt when they were told they had breast cancer. Whatever your initial feelings, you may go on to experience many different emotions over time.

The following information describes some of the emotional effects of breast cancer, and where you can find help and support if you need to.

Coping with a diagnosis of breast cancer

How you feel when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer is individual to you.

You may be frightened about what the future holds, you may feel shocked or angry, or you may be relieved that the cancer has been found and is going to be treated.

There’s no list of right or wrong, good or bad feelings and no order you must have them in.

Find out more about how you might feel when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer.

Managing anxiety

It’s natural to be anxious when you’re coping with a potentially life-threatening illness.

Anxiety can have many physical and emotional effects, from making you feel irritable to stopping you eating and sleeping properly.

Find out more about managing your anxiety, including how to spot the symptoms of anxiety.

Feeling low or depressed?

If negative thoughts are interfering with your life and don’t go away within a few weeks or keep coming back, you could be depressed.

Depression is a common condition and can occur at any time during your diagnosis, treatment or after treatment has finished.

Various treatments are available for depression. Find out more about how to spot the signs of depression and where to find help.

Finding support

There are many ways to find help to cope with the emotional impact of breast cancer. Friends and family can offer support, you could speak to your GP or hospital team, or you could try Breast Cancer Care’s services.

If you're moving forward after breast cancer, you can find useful hints and tips on coping in BECCA, our free app.

Help from friends and family

Don't be afraid to ask for support from those who care about you. It can help to talk about your feelings and try not to distance yourself from people.

If you’re worried about telling friends or family about breast cancer or that your relationships with those closest to you may change, take a look at our information on relationships and family.

Talk to other people affected by breast cancer

For some people, talking to others who are in a similar situation can help to decrease feelings of anxiety, isolation or fear. Our online Forum provides opportunities to share your experiences and get support from other people affected by breast cancer.

Meeting people face to face

You may want to consider meeting face to face with people in a similar situation. Breast Cancer Care runs various support events across the country – take a look at our map of services to find an event in your local area.

Taking care of your wellbeing

Regular physical activity has many health benefits, but it can also help improve your mood and reduce anxiety and depression.

Find out more about physical activity, including tips on becoming more active in your daily life.

Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep may also help you to cope better with stress.

Some people try complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy or massage, alongside their conventional medical treatment.

Last reviewed: March 2016
Next planned review begins 2018

Let us know what you think

Please note that we cannot respond to comments. If you have any questions about breast cancer please contact the Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

Sign up for our newsletter

Related Publication