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Casual Contributor

Mental health of people with terminal illness

Both of the people I care for have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. My mother with stage 4 colon cancer and my cousin an acute type of leukaemia.


Both of them have become very anxious and depressed. I feel helpless, how can I know how they are feeling when I have not been through this myself.


I would really like to talk to others that are living with or have lived though this or similar situations.


Re: Mental health of people with terminal illness

Hi Jade,

I don't have personal/family experience with this. However I work in disability insurance and speak to people with terminal illnesses daily, many of which are depressed and anxious.

There are two cases.

1. People that already suffer depression/anxiety, then diagnosed with a terminal illness (which increases depression etc).

2. People who become depressed/anxious after terminal illness diagnosis.

In either situation I admit to people 'I don't know' how they feel. But remind them I care and will assist them anyway I can. But it's tough, no two ways about it. I hope you find some people to help you more.

Re: Mental health of people with terminal illness

Hi Jade,

I think alot of people here are in the same boat, feeling a sense of helplessness because they haven't been through the same thing as the person they care for. This doesn't make you any less of an effective and wonderful carer though! Just being there for them, regardless of what they are going through, is so powerful.

There's a great organisation called Palliative Care Australia ( who have created a great resource called "What Can I Say? What Can I Do" ( which you may find helpful.

Please remember, you don't have to be everything and try and solve every problem for the people you're caring for. There are mental health  professionals and services out there to assist with their anxiety and depression they are going through.

It sounds like you have a lot that you're managing right now - I hope you're also looking after youself too.

Take care

Re: Mental health of people with terminal illness

I am also caring for my elderly mother of 87 who has late stage pulmonary fyrbrosis and is using oxygen. I also care for my brother of 58 who has schizophrenia. My mother does not wish to acknowledge that she is dying and is resistant to
any aids that might make her life easier. Both my mother and brother are alcoholics but thankfully my mother is not insisting on drinking after being discharged from hospital as she is even more negative and difficult to deal with when she is drinking. I doubt you can do much more than you are already doing Jade and don't make my mistake I made I made in the last. Make sure you find some time for yourself.

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