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The Emotional Toll of Chronic Illness

Trigger Warning
The content includes information related to mental and emotional distress and it might be upsetting to some people. If you or someone you know have thoughts of suicide, have attempted suicide, or experience emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1–800–273–TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat. To get general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, contact SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline – 1–877–SAMHSA7 (1–877–726–4727).

The emotional toll

Managing prostate cancer is difficult enough, but emotional and mental challenges can also arise. Often, people aren’t just coping with one chronic condition, but several, and it can have a negative impact on the mental health of patients and their caregivers. We conducted a large survey of people living with chronic health conditions, such as prostate cancer, and asked many questions to understand the mental health challenges that result from living with one or more physical conditions and how they’re recognized and managed.


The many symptoms of mental health

As if prostate cancer wasn’t difficult enough to manage and live with, most people also have to cope with a myriad of mental health-related symptoms. People have experienced an average of 12 mental health symptoms, with many (almost 40%) having to deal with these symptoms on a daily basis.

Symptoms can be difficult to identify as being related to a mental health-related condition. Dismissal of symptoms can have serious and devastating consequences.


Coping with mental health

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for mental health conditions. What works for one person may not work for someone else and that makes it extremely challenging, particularly when also having to manage a chronic physical health condition. But there are many coping tools and treatment options available that are effective for improving mental health symptoms and quality of life.

The Mental Health survey was an online survey conducted with people living with chronic health conditions to gain insights to how physical health conditions impact emotional and mental health and vice versa. A total of 3,275 respondents completed the survey.


  • RailwayMan
    2 years ago

    My HMO, a big one, really screws with one who tests positive for cannabis use and will terminate the pain medications for those who do.

  • ninaw moderator
    2 years ago

    That is awful, @RailwayMan. It’s a good warning to others as well. – Nina, Team

  • Tnewman
    2 years ago

    The stress of the diagnosis is overwhelming. Active surveillance was not working for me. Know you have cancer affects almost everything you do. I experienced the irritable. I was crabby about nothing. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t want help to plan or commit to any trips my wife was working on. My cancer consumed my life. I am two and a half weeks out from my surgery to remove and I am halfway home. I have no incontinent issues to speak of. I certainly have the fear of ED, but I am hopeful my cancer is behind me and life is much better.

  • ninaw moderator
    2 years ago

    I’m so glad you’re talking about this, @tnewman. You’ve described it so eloquently. What a relief that you’re in a better place mentally now, and we’re wishing you the best in your recovery. We’re grateful for your voice and perspective! – Nina, Team

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