What is caregiver anxiety?
What can I do about my anxiety?
When should I talk to my doctor about my anxiety?



What is caregiver anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, discomfort or impending doom. It is common for people taking care of someone with cancer to experience anxiety. It can be caused by a loss of control, fear for the patient’s well-being, worry over family finances, uncertainty about the future, and feelings of being overwhelmed.

Caregivers with anxiety can have physical and emotional symptoms. Emotionally, you may feel tense, worried, wary, agitated, or distracted. Physically, you may tremble, sweat, or shake. You may be short of breath, have a rapid heart rate, or feel like your heart is pounding in your chest. You may have an upset stomach, headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, or difficulty sleeping.

Back to top

What can I do about my anxiety?

Here are some tips you may find helpful:

  • Get help with caregiving.
  • Try to identify what "triggers" your anxiety.
  • List things that have helped in the past, and then try them out.
  • Talk about your feelings with others. Be honest. Try to describe your how you're truly feeling. Ask your family and friends for ideas on managing your anxiety.
  • Try to find a support group or online forum for caregivers.
  • Learn about the patient’s type of cancer, treatment and what to expect. You can research this yourself or ask someone to do it for you.
  • Do things you enjoy or find distracting, like listening to music.
  • Try using controlled breathing or guided imagery to relax. Consider asking a friend to help with this.
  • Surround yourself with friends if that relaxes you.
  • Try prayer or meditation.
  • Get exercise. For example, go for a walk with a friend.
  • Get a massage.
  • Limit caffeine, including coffee, colas, black teas, and chocolate.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Ask your doctor for a counseling referral, or talk to him or her about medications for anxiety.

    Back to top

When should I talk to my doctor about my anxiety?

Talk to your doctor if you have:

Back to top

Next learn about...

Getting help with caregiving
Coping with fear & uncertainty
Talking with family & friends

Article Topics: 
This website was created to provide information, education, and support that will help cancer caregivers care for themselves and their family members. It is not meant as medical advice. Please check with your physician for any advice about your health.