Anxiety, anxiety........

I wonder if anyone can offer some advice?
I was dx 2004(invasive dc, DCIS and Pagets disease right side, had mx,oopherectomy ,then proph mx 2005 and bilateral recon, failed recon removed 2008,).i currently take Arimidex but due to finish this 2011.

Ever since I have had all this, I have found myself suffering from anxiety - not too bad at first, but it just seems to be getting worse and worse!
I am not sure if it is due to the premature menopause at age 40 (I have read that anxiety can be a symptom), due to the sudden lack of oestrogen (further depleted by arimidex), or just something that follows the dx and treatment of breast cancer.
Has anyone experienced this at all? I feel that it has got especially bad over the past few years; it’s truly horrible, and I have almost panic attacks sometimes.
I haven’t seen my Dr about this, I feel a bit of a failure and really not sure what to do - I just know that I cannot go on like this any more. It is really affecting my confidence, especially at work.
If anyone has experienced this, do you take anything for it? If so, what, and has it helped?
I really would welcome any suggestions and hear anyone else’s experiences.

Hi Happyshopper

I was also dx in 2004 - and had a recurrence in 2008. I also suffered from anxiety, found it was particularly bad in the autumn of 2009, just after finishing herceptin. Like you I did nothing for a while, but got so angry with it - felt it was affecting my whole life and particularly at work, so I went to GP. Was prescribed bisperone (I think that was the name) which helped a bit, but after also getting shingles later in the year I was prescribed amytryptilene for the nerve pain, and I have to say it not only helped the nerve pain but also the anxiety. I felt much better quite quickly and it seemed to help me over the worst.

I would say don’t be afraid to seek help. It isn’t an admission of failure - the chances are you will only need something short term to help you with the worst symptoms which are affecting your life.

Hope this helps, love Mo x

Hello there

I can’t offer any answers but to say that I too have been suffering from anxiety and this is the first time I’ve admitted it! I was diagnosed in 2009 and have had problem after problem with treatment. I don’t know if it is because of this but now when I should be starting to relax a bit more (it’s a year since I finished treatment) I’m more anxious than ever.
Like you I was put into menopause, mine through chemo and I seem to get a lot of symptoms from that too. I never know what is causing what.
I definitely don’t want any more drugs as I’m having enough side effects with the ones I’m on. I’m wondering about something like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is one of the talking therapies the NHS does sometimes fund. Perhaps someone has tried this and will post.
take care, Elinda xx

Hi everyone

I started going through the menopause in 2006/2007 and my main symptom was severe anxiety, it was awful. I didn’t want to take HRT so I tried natural methods such as phyto-oestrogens in my diet and I did start to feel better. In 2008 after my first mammogram I was diagnosed with DCIS. I had a mastectomy but I didn’t need any further treatment except for Tamoxifen because my cancer was oestrogen receptive. After a few months on Tamoxifen my anxiety came back a lot worse than before and my surgeon told me to come off it because it wasn’t worth me putting up with the side effects for the advantages I was getting from taking it. (I know this isn’t the case for many women with bc)

I am still peri-menopausal and I have occasional bouts of anxiety. I have stopped the phyto-oestrogens etc in my diet because there seems to be some debate about whether they are safe to have after bc. I just try to eat healthily. I try to have a walk every day and do some relaxation techniques to stop the anxiety but most of the time I just wait for the day when I am post menopausal and it stops!

I think there are some things your gp can do for anxiety such as beta blockers so it might be worth having a chat with him/her.

Good luck everyone. Anxiety is horrible.

Maude xx

Hello Elinda

I had CBT in 2006 for depression/anxiety. I used to have panic attacks and was constantly in a high state of anxiety.

I cannot recomend CBT high enough. It certainly worked for me. Even now I use the exercises I learnt if ever I feel a bit anxious but I have to say the lessons I was taught by my therapist have so changed my outlook on life that I rarely become anxious now at all.

I know different things work better for some than others but I do think CBT is worth a try.

Good luck and have an anxious free Xmas if you can.

Viv x

… forgot to say - try cutting down on caffeine (I have decaff tea and coffee all the time). Also, make sure you are breathing properly, we tend to take shallow breaths when we are anxious. Definitely worth trying the other therapies like CBT too.

Maude xx

Thanks Viv. Good to know that the research on CBT stands true and you found it so effective. Can I ask, did you get this on the NHS?

Gosh ladies, thank you so much for your posts- so useful and has certainly given me lots of things to think about to try.
I acknowledge that i really need to get a grip on this, because it’s absolutely awful feeling like this all the time.I didn’t feel anything like this before all this began, and it is very reassurring for me to hear that you have experienced this too (though I wish none of us had).

AS for CBT, would I ask my GP? Would this be done in combination with medication?
It’s hard to know what the exact cause of it is, but my guess is probably menopausal,enhanced by the further reduction in oestrogen caused by arimidex. Not that I’m complaining that’s being mopped up, if it keeps this BC at bay!

Happyshopper, you are NOT a failure. If you take nothing else from this thread, take that one thought.

I would certainly suggest you speak to your GP and ask about the talking therapies. You might also find that you cancer centre if there is one associated with your hospital offers this kind of counselling. As for whether it’s in combination with medication, that all depends on you and what you as an individual need. I suffered from depression about 6 years ago, nothing to do with cancer, and I found Prozac was a complete life-line, so don’t write off the medication as it does have its place. But only you and your doctor will know whether it has a place in helping you. And as others have said, amytriptylene (sp?) has a side-effect of calming down some of the menopausal symptoms. Or perhaps the anti-depressant/anti-anxiety action is the side-effect…

Hi Happyshopper
I know how you feel about your anxiety. I had an early menopause when I was 38 and had severe anxiety then. Such a horrible thing to go through.
Fast forward and I was dx in February this year with BC. Had a lumpectomy which showed it was DCIS, but 8mm was IDC. Then had another op to sample 6 of my lymph nodes, thankfully no spread to lymphs, then had 6 months Chemo and 6 weeks radiotheraphy which finished in October.
Funny thing was I had less anxiety when I was recieving treatment. Now all treatment is over and I am back at work on a phased return I feel it is returning. Don’t know if this is to do with the Femara tablets Im on.
Hang on in there and take care of yourself, that’s what I do. Also get help from family and friends when you are feeling this way.
Love Anne xx

Hi Elinda

No I didn’t have the CBT on the NHS because I am fortunate to have private health insurance. I think you can get it now on NHS though.


Hi everyone.

All the feelings described here are so familiar to me too at the moment. I was diagnosed in July and have just come to the end of my treatment (lumpectomy and 3 weeks of rads). My outlook is very good as caught early and hasn’t spread, and would really like to celebrate this, but can’t seem to get there. I seemed to have got through treatment ok, but started feeling anxious and unwell during rads, when I also started Tamoxifen, but have felt so anxious and depressed since that i feel i’m cracking up, though strangely some days I feel fine. The mood swings are very wearing.

I may have had a reaction to the Tamoxifen and have been taken off it for a bit to see if that helps. And of course I’m menopausal, so add that into the mix! I am trying to do all the right things and “be kind to myself”: I’m swigging Rescue Remedy by the bucketful, dousing myself in lavender oil, having shiatsu and hypnotherapy, listening to relaxation and wellbeing podcasts, taking Beta Blockers and the occasional tranquiliser when things are really bad, and my GP has lined up some CBT sessions for me. I’m doing all the right things and they help when I’m not feeling too anxious, but beyond a certain point sometimes even the drugs don’t help! I’m considering anti-depressants (some SSRI’s apparently also help with hot flushes and mine are mega).

Good to hear that the CBT helped you vivrog, I’m hoping it will do the same for me. Mine is being offered by my GP surgery, so worth making enquiries HappyShopper. And alternative therapies have been offered by the cancer support centre attached to the hospital. They have been nice and helpful at the time.

Anxiety is horrible, but helps to know not alone. I guess it’s a long haul.

Happy, anxiety free New Year to all. Denisthemenace.