Can Ovarian Cancer Affect Your Mental Health?
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2021
An ovarian cancer diagnosis and its treatment can bring about many different emotions. Your physical health is often not the only thing impacted by cancer. You may also find that your mental health and emotional well-being are affected.
Your emotional and mental health can go through various changes after diagnosis, during treatment, and even after your treatment has ended.
Each person responds to experiences in a different way. You should not compare your ovarian cancer experience with someone else’s. No matter what you are feeling, it is valid. There are people and resources to help you through.
Mood changes after an ovarian cancer diagnosis
After getting your diagnosis, you might have a range of emotions. You might feel:1
- In denial
- Worried or afraid
You might feel one, several, or all of these things at various points. This is normal.
Emotions after ovarian cancer treatment
After treatment is over, you might have many different feelings. You may be nervous, relieved, scared, sad, or optimistic. There is no “right” way to feel.
Sometimes, cancer treatments can cause “chemo brain”. This can include issues with memory, thinking, or attention. This may cause you to feel worried or depressed, which can make these cognitive issues worse.2
While emotional changes are normal, that does not mean you have to experience them alone. Talk with your doctor about how you are feeling. Your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Your doctor can help you find the resources and support you might need. They can also address your concerns, answer your questions, or simply be a trusted listener.
Coping with advanced stage cancer
Ovarian cancer, especially in later stages, can bring about many emotions. Research shows that nearly half of people with advanced cancer have symptoms of mental disorders, including adjustment order and depression. Adjustment disorder is a group of symptoms like stress and sadness that can occur after a difficult life event. Therapy and medicines may help you deal with these issues.3
It is important to talk about your prognosis (projected course of your cancer) and end-of-life issues with your care team. Open communication can help you know what to expect, how to plan and share your feelings every step of the way. Your team can help connect you with counselors, support groups, and supportive care. With the help of your team, you can get the emotional support you need, no matter what you may be feeling.
Finding emotional and mental health support
Mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health during and after cancer treatment. The experience of cancer and its treatment can be draining in many ways. Your treatment and its effects may also impact your emotional and mental health.
Taking care of yourself also includes addressing your emotional and mental health needs. Talk with your doctors about how you are feeling. They can connect you with therapists who work with people living with cancer. Your care team can also prescribe medicine to help improve your mental and emotional health.
Support groups can be another source of help. There are many types of groups for people with cancer. They may meet in-person or online.
Your mental and emotional health is important. If you are struggling or do not feel like yourself, there is help available. You do not have to go through this experience alone.