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After you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you may find yourself stuck in a spiral of low mood, feeling helpless and hopeless of the future. Most people experience similar emotions. However, if your low mood persists, you could have depression.​​​​​​​1 Depression is a common condition in response to trauma.​​​​​​​1

Depression can have a broad range of symptoms that varies from person to person. The list below is not exhaustive, however, if you have the following signs or any other concerns, you should talk to your treatment team or GP who can refer you to a counsellor or psychiatrist.​​​​​​​1



  • Loss of enjoyment and interest in hobbies
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Persistent thoughts such as
    “what is the point?” or “I can’t be bothered”
  • Loss of appetite
  • Withdrawing from others

Seeking professional advice may help you relieve these symptoms and feel better.​​​​​​​1 Support and treatment may include talking therapy like cognitive behavioural therapy, antidepressants, or connecting with your support system, such as other people with breast cancer or to your care team.1


Learning about your diagnosis, treatment options and potential changes that your body is going to experience may put you under immense stress. Any uncertainty that you foresee as a result of your diagnosis could intensify your nervous and panicky emotions.​​​​​​​2​​



  • Racing heart rate
  • Changes to appetite
  • Feeling sick
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Tightness in chest
  • Difficulty concentrating

You may also feel anxious after you have received treatment or are in remission.​​​​​​​3 Worrying about recurrence is· common, and knowing the signs of recurrence could help you feel more at ease, with greater control of your condition.3 You should be aware of changes such as swelling in your chest, change in shape or size of breasts, change in skin texture, or redness or rash. If you have any concerns, you should talk to your doctor.3​​​​​​


Some techniques to reduce stress and anxiety include distraction, meditation and relaxation, or one-to-one counselling.2 Regular exercise and staying physically active may also help you clear your mind and lower stress levels.​​​​​​​2 Starting with low-impact exercises such as yoga, swimming or brisk walking can help you stay active.4 However, distracting yourself with alcohol or smoking is unlikely to help, and can lead to other health problems.2

No matter what, you should remember that everyone’s mental health is different. While some people will find reaching out to family or friends for emotional and mental support effective for maintaining mental health, you may not.​​​​​​​5 It is okay to seek help from a mental health professional or support group to help you feel better.5


  1. Breast Cancer Now (February 2022). Low mood and depression after a breast cancer diagnosis. Retrieved from Accessed 25 March, 2022.
  2. Breast Cancer Now (February 2022). Stress and anxiety after a breast cancer diagnosis. Retrieved from Accessed 25 March, 2022.
  3. Breast Cancer Now (May 2019). Breast cancer recurrence symptoms. Retrieved from Accessed 25 March, 2022.
  4. Breast Cancer Now (n.d.). Exercise for all: 5 activities to try today. Retrieved from Accessed 25 March, 2022.
  5. (February 2022). Mental Health Care Options for People With Metastatic Breast Cancer.
    Retrieved from Accessed 25 March, 2022.



This health information is provided for reference only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider.

All decisions regarding patient care must be made with healthcare provider.