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Anyone have depression and anxiety long after treatment is finished?

Sweet Baker
Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2019

I went thru Chemo, Radiation and Surgery in 2012. I can't understand why I'm not and I haven't felt "on top of the world" by winning the battle, that everything should just roll off my back but that's just not the case. I have been  emotional, anxious and depressed. I'm wondering if anyone else has felt they are struggling a while after cancer treatment. I'm wondering if the Chemo has caused this. Has anyone else experienced this?    

JanJan63's picture
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

I have times when I feel this way but I take anti-depressants and that helps. Also, I try to remove myself mentally from it until such a time as I have to go see my onc or have a test or whatever, then it looms large. But I can see how it can become overpowering and very hard to let it go. I think it's just normal for anyone dealing with a chronic disease. It's alife shattering diagnosis to start with and it can be something that's very hard to get past.


impactzone's picture
Posts: 542
Joined: Aug 2006

Yes... some have called it survivor guilt, others a general seriousness and emotional distance combined with periods of extreme emotions. I have had this and found that I needed to be doing things for others... teaching, volunteer, cleaning. A balance just isn't there... I am doing better no but it tok a couple years... All my best


Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

This may sound weird, but when you are on chemo, you can feel like you are doing something - nevermind how much you don't like it.  After 2 years of Avastin,when I went off it, I was depressed because suddenly I was doing nothing - just watching and waiting.  A bit like post partum depression - for a long time it was all about you and suddenly it isn't anymore.


Don't be afraid to take an antidepressant.  They can be very helpful and are not addictive at all.


Take care,


abita's picture
Posts: 1022
Joined: Dec 2017

That is exactly how I feel about starting treatment yesterday. My doctors were taking it very slow to come up with my treatment, over 3 months. And I was starting to freak out about how big the tumors must be getting, are there new ones now. I went in not knowing that they had finally picked something,  and ended up getting it the same day. People keep asking me how I feel to be on treatment and I can't really Express it so I just answer, happy to be fighting again. Which is true, but I had been up until 5 am going over in my mind how to say, hop to it sir, and have been a mess emotionally.  And now am so calm, like a huge weight lifted off me. Which is good because being on chemo sucks, but the finally getting to fight again ...

Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3372
Joined: Jan 2010

The answer is yes I have had it, and still do to a certain extent, but I didn't have chemo or radiation, just major surgery.

I think the depression started soon after, thinking that even after the surgery I might not last to the 5 year mark.  It has now been 9 years and I find myself operating on "how much longer"...of course my age contributes to this...72.

Regardless of the actual cause, the best we can do is recognize it, and do what we can to fill our lives with things which make us happy or at least content.

Marie who loves kitties

KarenMG's picture
Posts: 109
Joined: Jun 2017

Yes I feel that way completely, I just try to ignore the feelings as much as I can by distracting myself with anything and everything. Which doesn't work every minute of the day of course. I think because I was already battling anxiety and depression way before the diagnosis that I already had the inclination to feel that way and it all just made me feel sunk. Also, not having much family support or friends around leaves it to me to cheer myself up. I am a fighter so I'm still here after almost 3 years must mean I am doing something right.

Best of luck to you.

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6711
Joined: Feb 2009

I'm 10 years out and I'm still anxious about everything.  Bones aching, bathroom issues, blood tests, mammogram, etc.  I'm a worrier by nature but since getting cancer I'll worry about things I've never worried about.  I'm happy everyday though and don't dwell on it unless I've got a major pain, or tests.  Just know that there are others out there that can't seem to let go.  I've done better through the years, but still it hits me now and again.


Butt's picture
Posts: 355
Joined: May 2018

It may be PSTD and psycologysts can fix it in most cases.

Sweet Baker
Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2019

Thank you all for your input, I have tried several anti depressants and therapists. Nothing has made me feel "content". I am just so much more of a worrier and I have a nervousness I didn't have before. It's been 7 years. I thought maybe the Chemo drugs may have caused changes in my thinking??? I have an appointment with my Oncologist on Monday and I am bringing this up to him.   

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5462
Joined: Jan 2013

and Yoga?

It is just a suggestion, as I have never experienced severe depression and thus, am not qualified to give advice. 


Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2019

I'm sorry you are suffering from depression.  It is extremely common among cancer patients due to anxiety and not knowing if there is going to be a relapse.  Keeping yourself busy - volunteer, take care of kids, grandkids, work if you are able to - is always a good thing.  Exercising (just walking sometimes) has beneficial effects on your body always.  Avoiding loneliness is good.  If you are low on motivation, make small goals and try to achieve them.  It could be as simple as walking 1 hour a day for 5 days a week.  Do take medication if your doctor prescribed it.


Butt's picture
Posts: 355
Joined: May 2018

People with depressiin have hard time to do basic things in life. Did you try to ask yourself honestly is there anything else that causes those reaction? Money, relationship, pressure at work? You may feel it not because you had cancer.

marbleotis's picture
Posts: 715
Joined: Mar 2012

I think when you are going through all the chemo/scans/...... you are just "in it".  When this is all done you have that underlying fear it will return.  Or sometimes you cannot believe all that you went through.  I look at life differently now.  Things that used to bother me I could care less.  I have no time for silly nonsense or silly people.  

There is also the chemo-brain issues, which I think contributes to emotional ups and downs.

I choose to keep positive people/attitudes around me.  That helps alot.

Posts: 88
Joined: Nov 2017

[[I can't understand why I'm not and I haven't felt "on top of the world" by winning the battle]]

Because even though you are winning, you are still experiencing stress- stress is a major condition, even when it's minor, it still affects peopel negatively- both physically and mentally- Sounds like You've developed anxiety- that also is from the stress- it can cause panic attacks, feeling low, nervous, it affects sleep- affects breathing- it's a nasty little condition- if it's partularly bothersome. tell you doctor about it- there are meds that can help-  they will also help the feeling low condition too-

Even though many beat cancer, there is always the fear, way back in the mind, buried deep- that it could come back- We've all read the literature, usually, and know that it coudl very well come back- even when we get our 5 year 'A-ok" diagnosis, we are still fearful- stressed about it- People can learn to ignore it to a certain extent, but ithe fear is still there- causign stress- Don't underestimate how distressign stress is on hte body and mind-

Also your body just went through hell with the treatments- it really does take a heavy toll- even though we 'power through it' - it's still taking a heavy toll-

Cancer is a beast- don't feel one bit bad abotu not feeling on top of the world- you hjave just been through a terrible battle- so, chin up and soldier on- the battle is still waging- now it's the battle to accept that you beat it- and embrace life, and nejoy as much as you can- to the voctor go the spoils- (ie- Life has changed because of the battle, and we can appreciate and embrace thigns we didn't see before, because we now know life can be fleeting- so we pick up o nthe gems of life and claim them as our own that we didn't see before- the little things that bring joy- seeing othersw in a different light- appreciating htem more perhaps- sympathising with htem more maybe-

Beign forced to face the fact that life is temporary has a way of forcign us to embrace it whiel we can- when we're healthy, we're just too busy to recognize this, and steam through life 1000 mph- Now we're forced to slow down and parreciate things in a proactive conscious manner- beofre we  stil lappreciated life, but subconsciously I think- not really thinking about it-

Well- this is long enouhg- Keep soldiering on-


Posts: 78
Joined: Jul 2017

When I finished my initial treatment, my oncologist proactively told me that it's really common for cancer patients to have anxiety and/or depression AFTER finishing treatment and to be on the lookout for that. Her theory was that maybe it's becuase we're so busy dealing with the everyday issues of treatment when we're in the middle of it, but afterwards, we have more time and energy to think about what just happened to us. 

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6711
Joined: Feb 2009

This is "spot on" as during treatment you are more concerned of getting through it so your mind only thinks about that last treatment, or last surgery, or last scan to get them clear.  After you are done, everything just "stops".  No more treatment, weekly blood draws, appointments get spread out from just six months to a year and then you just get passed to your Primary Provider.  Then everytime their is an ache or pain, something you can't explain, your mind tends to wander is is back.  Like my previous post said, I'm 10 years out and I'm still here but everytime my colonoscopy comes due, I'm still nervous and afraid. 


ron50's picture
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

   Surviving survival is not easy because it is about so much more than just cancer. Ron.

beaumontdave's picture
Posts: 1147
Joined: Aug 2013

To fight a cancer battle, like any sustained traumatic event, is going to leave you changed, even if your body heals. Your mind has been taken for a ride, down a path most don't go voluntarily. The vulnerability is always there, you're older, your body's been messed with, poisoned, cut into, and radiated. Make it through all of it, and you haven't won anything, you just survived in a world where you're still sliding towards mortality and an end. We celebrate the little victories and bumps, and stay in the moment, even after treatment, enjoy the things we can, make the most of things we feel re-given. But part of us always knows life's harshness and arbitrary results can visit again, anytime. Hold on to what matters, what got you through, and find the other things you enjoy, but don't expect to find an old life, find the will to make a new one. Best of luck.......................................Dave

Msboop15's picture
Posts: 83
Joined: Apr 2019

Thanks Dave. What you wrote is so true...so beautifully said. Brought tears to my eyes. 

SandiaBuddy's picture
Posts: 1177
Joined: Apr 2017

Well said, Dave, I could not agree more.

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