Patient Guide

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Anxiety

It is very common for a person to feel anxious when facing a new or stressful situation. We all feel worried at times in our day-to-day lives. People may experience anxiety as nervousness, tension, panic, fear, or feeling like something bad is going to happen. Anxiety can also be experienced as physical symptoms such as upset stomach, sweaty palms, fast heartbeat, shaking, or flushed face.

Although it is normal to feel anxious when facing a life-threatening illness and intensive treatment, there are things that may help you decrease the feelings of anxiety or learn to cope with it.  Most importantly, get professional help when you need it.

Important Signs and Symptoms

Report symptoms to your doctor or nurse during clinic hours today if you are experiencing:

  • Feelings of dread and apprehension for several days
  • Physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, shaking, and rapid heartbeat (which can also be side effects of treatment)
  • Wide mood swings that you cannot control

What You Can Do At Home

It will help if you can learn how to cope with anxiety. Try these things, and see if it helps.

  • Recognize that anxiety during treatment is normal and so is getting help for it.
  • Try to understand what thoughts trigger your anxiety. For example, if you are anxious about a medical procedure, ask yourself what it is about the procedure that is upsetting. Then ask yourself how you would change the procedure so it doesn’t make you so anxious. Staff may be able to help make those changes, so talk with them about it.
  • Get the facts. For example, if you are worried about pain or discomfort, ask for information on how to manage pain or discomfort.
  • Think about doing things that are pleasant and relaxing. This can help reduce anxiety. Relaxation is a skill that can be used to counteract anxiety. It’s nearly impossible to be relaxed and anxious at the same time.

Get Professional Help When Needed

If anxiety doesn’t improve despite your efforts to reduce it, discuss it with your nurse, doctor, or social worker. Or ask for a referral to a mental health counselor.