Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, fear or apprehension. These feelings are common when you have cancer. They can be worse when you are having tests, waiting for results, having treatment or seeing your specialist.
Recognising symptoms of anxiety and making changes to manage it can help you to cope and feel better.
If you have severe anxiety, ask your doctor, nurse or another member of your cancer care team for help.
Know what to expect
It is normal to have worries and concerns when you have cancer.
If these feelings get worse or don’t go away, they may be symptoms of anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- feeling scared or worried
- muscle tension
- trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- restlessness or agitation
- tiredness or exhaustion
- trouble concentrating or remembering
- nausea, dizziness, fast heartbeat, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath.
Start a symptom diary
Keeping track of your symptoms can help you and your cancer care team to manage them better.
Talk to your doctor or nurse to see if there is a diary they recommend, or use the example in the resources provided on this page.
Know who to contact if you have a problem
Ask your doctor or nurse:
- when you should call for help or advice
- who you should contact
- how to contact them (including at night or weekends).
Keep this information where you can easily find it.
Talk to your doctor or nurse, and tell them how you feel. Ask for advice on how to manage anxiety. They may refer you to see a social worker or clinical psychologist.
It can help to be aware of what brings on episodes of anxiety and what you can do to manage this.
If you have tried relaxation, deep breathing, meditation and or gentle exercise and you continue to have anxiety you need to talk to your doctor. It is important to say how you feel and that you want help.