How Can The Mental Stresses Of A Brain Tumour Be Relieved?

gamma knife surgery - woman with stress

Being diagnosed with a brain tumour can be a deeply traumatic experience. According to the Brain Tumour Charity, 91% of people they spoke to about the issue said that their tumour affected their mental or emotional health. This is perhaps unsurprising, given the disruption and discomfort that such a serious condition can bring.

There are many different ways in which a brain tumour can impact a person. The tumour itself may cause personality changes and trigger depression and anxiety. This is not inevitable, and everyone will experience the symptoms differently.

However, in some cases, it may cause mood swings or extremes of mood, a flattening of the emotions, irritability, aggression, a loss of inhibitions, or confusion and forgetfulness. These changes most often occur in frontal lobe tumours, because this is the area of the brain that controls our emotions and personality.

Swelling in the brain, caused by the tumour itself or by treatment, may lead to personality changes, although if the swelling is the result of treatment it should gradually subside, easing the symptoms. Medication may also cause or exacerbate mental problems in some people.

However, the stress of the diagnosis, treatment, and the disruption to finances, jobs, family, and other aspects of everyday life can understandably cause personality changes and emotional problems.

Sometimes, a persistent low mood may develop into clinical depression. This is characterised by intense feelings of sadness or hopelessness, outbursts of anger or irritability, and loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyed.

It may also lead to tiredness, excessive sleeping or difficulty sleeping, anxiety or agitation, reduced appetite or weight gain, disordered thinking, poor memery and difficulty concentrating, unfounded guilt, low self worth, and intrusive thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

The family and friends of the person living with the brain tumour may also be impacted with emotional problems, especially if they are directly involved in their care.

Severe cases of depression should be treated by a medical professional, as should any mental health problems that are caused by the tumour itself, rather than the shock and stress of a diagnosis.

However, mild depression may be relieved by some self-help tactics, such as talking honestly about the way you are feeling with someone you trust. This may be a family member, a friend, a counsellor, a health professional, or a member of a physical or virtual support network.

BBC News reports that Naseem’s Manx Brain Tumour Charity has received a grant from the Manx Lottery Trust to establish a therapeutic support service for people who have been diagnosed with brain tumours, and their families.

The charity was set up in 2009 by Geraldine Pishvaie after her teenage daughter Naseem was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. The support is designed to ease the emotional strain that such a serious health condition can bring.

Geraldine Pishvaie, from Naseem’s Manx Brain Tumour Charity, said: ‘Living with a diagnosis of brain tumour can be an incredibly uncertain and overwhelming time for both patients and caregivers. It becomes difficult for individuals to focus on activities and tasks that can benefit their well-being.”

She added: “This support is designed to empower individuals by providing them with essential skills to navigate the difficulties they encounter during this challenging period.’

Manx Lottery Trust chairman Stephen Turner said: ‘Naseem’s Manx Brain Tumour Charity has already made a significant impact on the lives of the people it supports. We are delighted to extend our support to this collaboration with Isle Listen, and we hope that many individuals will benefit from this project.’

Mild depression can be relieved with gentle exercise, such as a daily 20-minute walk, or even gardening or housework. Planning some enjoyable activities into your day, rather than things that you feel you ought to do, can also be helpful.

Brain tumours can be physically as well as mentally draining, so ensure that you get plenty of rest and sleep as much as you need to. It’s important to be kind to yourself and remember that your feelings are only natural.

Taking control of practical matters, such as finances, benefits, sick pay, childcare, and so on can make you feel more positive about yourself and able to cope.


If you are looking for more information about brain cancer and Gamma Knife surgery, please contact Mr Neil Kitchen of Amethyst Radiotherapy.