Terminal Illness

Terminal Illness

Terminal illness refers to a medical condition that cannot be cured and is expected to lead to the patient’s death. Coping with a terminal illness can have significant emotional and psychological impacts on both the individual diagnosed and their loved ones. Mental health challenges often arise as individuals navigate the complex emotions and uncertainties associated with their diagnosis.

How can terminal illness affect you?

A terminal illness diagnosis can affect mental health in various ways:

  • Emotional Impact: Individuals may experience a range of emotions, including shock, denial, anger, sadness, anxiety, and grief. Facing mortality and the prospect of impending death can lead to existential crises and profound emotional distress.
  • Psychological Stress: Coping with physical symptoms, treatment side effects, and uncertainties about the future can exacerbate stress and contribute to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Social Functioning: Terminal illness can strain relationships, lead to social isolation, and affect individuals’ ability to participate in social activities or maintain meaningful connections with others.

Coping with a terminal diagnosis

  • Emotional Support: Seek support from loved ones, friends, or support groups who can provide empathy, understanding, and companionship during this challenging time. Open communication and expressing emotions can help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Therapy: Consider individual or family therapy with a qualified mental health professional who specialises in grief, loss, or end-of-life issues. Therapy can provide a safe space to explore feelings, address existential concerns, and develop coping strategies. Many local hospices can provide this service.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.
  • Hospice Care: Access hospice services or palliative care teams, which provide comprehensive support and symptom management for individuals with terminal illness and their families.
  • Advance Care Planning: Engage in advance care planning discussions to clarify treatment preferences, goals of care, and end-of-life wishes, which can provide a sense of control and peace of mind.

Where to find help

Tough Enough To Care: Text TOUGH to 85258 for free and confidential advice and support 24/7. Alternatively you might find one of our support groups useful. Find your nearest one here.

Marie Curie can offer advice and support both for the person living with terminal illness and their friends and family.

Hospice Care UK can help to locate your local palliative care services.