Can anxiety affect lymphoedema?
Updated: Jun 19
Anxiety is often associated with lymphoedema because it adds another layer of concern in daily life. It is particularly so when it is secondary to a cancer intervention. Developing lymphoedema can create a feelings of being different, it affects body image and often results in depression. It is difficult to accept lymphoedema after surviving cancer and its treatment. It is another burden to bare mentally, socially and financially.
It is believed that anxiety and depression can have a role in increasing swelling. Do you know that anxiety is fear? It can be the fear that it will never be the same, that exercising can be detrimental to lymphoedema, fear that a management program is too expensive, fear that your significant others are not going to like you as much, fear that people are going to ask you questions. There is an endless list of fears and you need to find a way to calm them down before dealing with lymphoedema.
There are a few strategies that you could implement. An important measure is to recognize that there is a problem and investigate. The earlier it happens the better because it helps decrease anxiety, and there are a few reasons for it. For example an early intervention is not as expensive as you may think because and you may skip the intensive, time consuming bandaging phase. You can learn to implement a self-care program and maybe wear a compression garment. A good management plan can restore your control over lymphoedema and increase your chances to not depend on regular treatments and gain freedom to do what you want to do.
To talk about your feelings to someone near you can also help decrease anxiety. It could be a friend, your doctor or join a like-minded group. You can do yoga, learn relaxation techniques, meditation. You can start an exercise program with your therapist guidance or for the fitter one stay active. Being active keeps the lymphatic fluid moving. It helps with body image and look at the bright side of life. It helps you keep your weight and your blood pressure under control. Both of them can influence lymphoedema.
So please, take charge and regain control over anxiety and lymphoedema. Positive thinking is powerful thinking. "If you want happiness, fulfillment, success and inner peace, start thinking you have the power to achieve those things. Focus on the bright side of life and expect positive results” (Anon). I can help you with your first and second, and third steps. I can support you during your journey and help you find your balance. Feel free to ask a question or comment on this blog. I will endeavor to give you an answer within 24 hours.