Breathlessness and your feelings
Many people feel down at various times during their illness.
Some days you may feel well and relaxed, while on others you
may feel frightened, stressed, angry, sad and even guilty.
Having a range of emotions is a normal response to breathlessness, the cancer, the treatment and any fears you have about the future. There’s no right or wrong way to deal with these feelings but accepting they are normal will help.
Sometimes you may feel that you need to be alone, while at other times you may want to be with people. Go with what feels right for you at the time where possible. You may have family and friends who find your changing emotions difficult to understand, but if you talk together about how you each feel, you’ll understand each other better and be able to cope with the problems more easily.
You may find it helpful to talk to other people who are going through similar experiences. You can find out about support groups in your area by calling us or visiting the support group section on our website. You can also share your experiences of breathlessness with others on our Online Community.
Many people feel sad as a result of their cancer and difficult symptoms such as breathlessness. This is a natural response. Sometimes, these feelings of sadness don’t seem to pass but get worse, and you may become depressed.
Depression can come on gradually and may be difficult to recognise. If you’re depressed, it may be more difficult for you to follow your health professionals’ advice
Depression can usually be successfully treated in most people. The first step to feeling better is getting appropriate help. If you or your family think you may be depressed, discuss it with your GP. They can prescribe an antidepressant drug for you or refer you to a doctor or counsellor who specialises in the emotional problems that people with cancer might experience. By getting depression treated, you’ll make life easier for yourself, your family and your friends.
People with breathlessness can sometimes become isolated if they’re less able to go out and meet family or friends. Talking in a large group of people can also be very tiring. You may feel that you’d rather avoid these types of social situation. If you do feel isolated, it may help to talk to your family and friends. Tell them how you feel and how much you’re able to do. Together, you may be able to find a way to continue seeing each other that is less tiring for you.
Find out more about the emotional effects of cancer.