Breast Cancer and Your Emotions

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Sadness is a natural part of the cancer journey. It is important to know what is normal and when a person's sadness has reached a level that requires professional help.

When a person has cancer they experience a flood of emotions, from the moment of diagnosis through the steps of treatment and even after the disease goes into remission. These emotions can be very confusing and it is important to know what feelings are normal and when it is necessary to seek professional help. Look for these signs to determine if you or a loved one might be experiencing sadness or clinical depression:

Sadness
Sadness is a natural reaction to a scary situation, like starting a new treatment or experiencing side effects. Feeling sad about what is going to happen next in your cancer journey is perfectly normal. Talking with friends and family and learning all that you can about your cancer will empower you by giving you a better understanding of the disease and how it will affect you.

Clinical depression
Sadness is temporary. It comes and goes. And, while it is not fun, it is completely normal. If a person can't seem to snap out of their sadness and the emotion lasts for days or weeks, they may have clinical depression. Along with sadness, this feeling comes with an inability to cope, an overwhelming sense of helplessness, loss of hope, trouble sleeping or oversleeping, and even memory problems. People with clinical depression often have difficulty concentrating and are not interested in food or sex. They also no longer get pleasure from activities that normally make them happy. This condition can be genetic but can also be triggered by life-altering events, such as a cancer diagnosis. A strong support network of family and friends can help a person cope, but sometimes medical intervention is necessary. If you or a loved one have symptoms of depression, see your doctor. They may prescribe medication, therapy or a combination to help get you back to feeling like yourself again.

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