Cancer is tough. It doesn’t just affect your body; it’s an emotional upheaval too. But there are things you can do to help yourself cope, from simply reading a web page, to trying to open up to someone close. In this blog, we explore these and other tips for coping with a low mood.

Whether you are a carer or someone directly affected by cancer, working through a cancer diagnosis can be a very difficult time. Sometimes you may feel very low and it’s okay to feel this way.

You may feel anxious, sad, or like you’ve lost control. You may worry about what will happen next or in the future. This is a very normal way to feel.

Cancer can cause us to have many different feelings. And these can affect our behaviour and mood. 

Things you can do

If you are feeling low, it can take a lot of effort to do something that makes you feel better. To start with, doing small things can really help. Like getting up and dressed every day.

Trying to make sure you eat well and keep to a regular sleep pattern can also help. And keeping active or exercising when you can will improve your mood.

Often just sharing how you feel with someone can help to improve your mood. Your friends and family are likely to be very willing to listen. But counsellors or support groups are also great places to talk about how you feel and to hear about other experiences.

You may find it helpful to look at our information about the emotional effects of cancer or join our online community, where you can become part of different groups and talk to people who understand.

You may like to try complementary therapies. These can allow you to release tension, helping you let go of worries and fears, and regain a sense of control. Meditation, relaxation and massage are only a few of the many therapies you could try to feel better.

The important thing to keep in mind is that everybody is different and there is no right way to feel.  Be kind to yourself and remember that if you want to share your worries or just have a chat, then you can call the Macmillan Support Line for free on 0808 808 00 00

The difference between low mood and depression

It’s normal to feel low when you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with cancer. But if you feel very low most of the time, you may be depressed. Depression affects around 1 in 10 people and it can be difficult to recognise in ourselves.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • crying a lot
  • being unusually irritable
  • getting no pleasure from things you normally enjoy.


If you think you may be depressed, don’t be afraid to speak to your GP. Depression is not a sign of personal failure or an inability to cope. It’s a common condition that can usually be treated successfully. The first step to feeling better is finding appropriate help.

If you feel you can’t go on or you are having suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone. The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day and offer free, confidential, non-judgemental support to anyone. If you feel overwhelmed by it all, this could be the outlet you need to talk things through. 

We’re with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help – if you’d like to talk to someone, please get in touch.  We have a team of nurses and other experts who can answer any questions you have, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo