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How to manage your mental health and NSCLC diagnosis

Faceless professional psychologist taking notes on clipboard while counseling woman on couch in office

If you’re diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), you may experience symptoms and side effects that can greatly affect your mental well-being and overall quality of life. Compared to other types of cancer, the symptoms and overall physical discomfort from lung cancer have been reported to have more serious secondary effects on your emotional, social, physical, and well-being. It’s best to be ready for these quality-of-life changes and prepare yourself ahead of time.

It’s important to talk to your care team about the quality of life you can expect and discuss the plans and therapies to optimize your comfort throughout your treatment and beyond. Remember you’re not alone and to ask for help when you need it.

Depression is often difficult to detect in cancer patients because the symptoms of the actual cancer diagnosis and treatment can mirror some of the symptoms of depression, including fatigue, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping.

One in 8 people diagnosed with lung cancer have developed major depressive disorder (MDD), with more than 13% of females with lung cancer developing depression, as well. Depression in these patients led to (and can lead to):

  • A decreased quality of life
  • Reduced likelihood of following their treatment plan
  • Extended hospital stays
  • Increased symptoms (fatigue, pain)
  • Higher risk of suicide 

No matter what level your emotional state may be, it’s okay to feel that way and to share those feelings. Make sure you’re getting recommendations from your care team and that anything you read online comes from a credible source, such as the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, or the American Lung Association

Reach out to local patient advocacy or support groups in your area, or ask your doctor for support groups in the area. A therapist can provide you with cognitive exercises to monitor your symptoms and tools to help you navigate your emotions. From meditation to yoga, daily walks, to gratitude journals, there are many ways to get the help you need. 

You’re never alone – if you need to talk to someone or you’re having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 800-273-8255 or dial 988 immediately.

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