Recognizing Stress
Life without prostate cancer can be very stressful….but life with prostate cancer is guaranteed to be stressful. From the moment you are diagnosed your life changes, including your stress level. Our stress level results from an accumulation of various stress factors such as heavy workload, poor communications, multiple frustrations, coping with situations in which you feel powerless, the inability to rest or relax and then a prostate cancer diagnosis. Stress has very specific symptoms and signs.

Emotional fatigue
Vague anxiety
Frequent headaches, colds, and stomach problems
Intensified physical and emotional fatigue
Intensifying depression
More frequent loss of emotional control
Muscle aches
Sleep disturbances
Withdrawal from contact with others
Ingrained symptoms
Elevated blood pressure and cardiac problems
General physical and emotional fatigue
Increased alcohol use
Increased smoking
Intense depression
Intense irritability
Loss of sexual desire
Migraine headaches
Poor appetite
Relationship problems
Skin rashes
Use of nonprescription drugs

(Source: Mitchell J, Bray G. Emergency Services Stress: Guidelines on Preserving the Health and Careers of Emergency Services Personnel. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall; 1990.)

If you see yourself with these issues, don’t ignore them. Stress can be treated, and your life can improve. Untreated stress can lead to additional symptoms and your cancer progressing.

Joel T Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.