June 06, 2024

Breast Cancer Effects on Mental Health

Woman with shaved head holding a coffee cup

Breast Cancer & Mental Health

Breast cancer treatment can cause many changes in a patient’s appearance. If you’re on that journey, you may have concerns about those changes. That’s common and completely understandable.

The good news is you can take steps to enhance your self-confidence before, during, and after treatment. If you have breast cancer, body image issues don’t have to affect your quality of life adversely.

This article provides strategies and encouragement for dealing with mental health challenges related to breast cancer positively.

Understanding How Breast Cancer Affects Body Image

Each person’s breast cancer treatment protocol and response to it is unique. Yours may produce hair loss, weight changes, skin problems, and swelling. It may also require the removal of some or all of one or both breasts. In addition to affecting your body, breast cancer treatment can impact your thoughts and emotions.

How does breast cancer affect mental health? You may feel anxious, depressed, or self-conscious about how you look. These emotions can then affect your relationships, attitude toward intimacy, etc. Consequently, it can be very helpful to learn about ways to stay confident through and after breast cancer treatment and reduce body image issues after breast cancer.

Strategies for Maintaining Confidence

Below are ways to stay positive during and after breast cancer treatment.

Focus on your strength

Completing each step in the process — from coming to terms with your diagnosis to completing chemotherapy or other treatment protocols — demonstrates your toughness. You can view each milestone as a cause for celebration.

Reconnect with your body

Your body will likely be different after your treatment. It helps to acknowledge that fact and lovingly embrace “the new you,” finding ways to be comfortable and confident in who you are today.

Leverage supportive relationships

For people facing breast cancer, mental health support is essential. Good places to find it are within your family, in support groups, or from therapists. Some counselors have specialized expertise in addressing body image issues.

Rediscover your style

This period in your life is a great time to free yourself from the “look” that previously defined you. Experiment with wigs, hats, scarves, and clothes that flatter your new shape and feel “right” for whatever treatment phase you’re in!

Focus on your overall well-being

Turning attention to diet, exercise, and stress-relieving practices (mindfulness, meditation, etc.) supports optimal health and can reduce your body image concerns.

Celebrate your beauty

It’s helpful to remember that beauty has both external and internal components. Your physical appearance may have changed, but your strength and resilience are characteristics beyond the reach of cancer or any other challenge.

Additional Resources for You

When facing breast cancer, awareness of its mental health effects is essential. Remember that there are many resources available to cancer patients and survivors. They include support groups, patient advocacy organizations, and online communities.

Connecting with others to learn, share, and enjoy connections with people who understand what you’re going through is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Finding and capitalizing on patient support resources during and after cancer treatment is a good idea. This may be an extremely difficult time, but you’re not alone!

Learn More.