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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5559
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My wife was diagnosed with stage 1 breast OKMH0710217

Resolved Question:

My wife was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, every time she needs a mammogram or something in her blood work is elevated, I become consumed with worry. So much. that all I do is think about it and read about it on the internet, which we know how bad that info can be. For example, she has a value in her blood that is elevated, they assume its because she is vitamin D deficient so they will re-check in a 8 weeks. This level also rises in cases of bone metastasis. So, I am trying to figure ways to catch myself when I get in that place. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to live life and not spend the next 8 week consumed with what if?

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

When a person worries, it can be a way to try to control circumstances that feel out of control. Worrying makes you feel as if you are doing something rather that just accepting the situation is out of your control. It also helps to suppress other negative emotions and gives you something to focus on instead. When you try to stop worrying, the negative emotions come back, making you feel worse.

Worrying about something can also seem to help you makes sense of a situation. You may think that being worried helps you find solutions or keeps you from being surprised by anything. So there can seem to be a positive side to worry.

In dealing with a situation that naturally causes worry, such as your wife's diagnosis, it can almost seem impossible to shut your thoughts off and take a break. This type of worry, based in a real circumstance, can cause a lot of stress. You are always on alert and concerned about the one thing in your life, your wife's health and your fear that things will get worse.

While in your case the worry you feel can have some positive side effects (it helps you think through solutions, details you might otherwise not catch, etc), it can also wear you down and begin to cause you emotional and health issues. In order to get your worry under control, it may help to try some things:

One, create a time of the day when you worry. Make it a time when you are not busy with other things. First thing in the morning works for many people because this is the time when worry seems the most intense, before we have had a chance to feel in control of our day. Let yourself worry for a certain amount of time then let go.

Two, when letting go of worry, it helps to tell yourself that you already worried about the situation. Write it down, verbally tell yourself or just say it over and over in your mind. You can reinforce the idea of letting go that way.

Three, write down what you are worried about. By putting it on paper, you can express it and get it out of your mind. Return to it during your worry time to review it.

Four, talk to friends, family or a therapist to help you express your worry. Turn to them when your wife needs a test or has a result you are concerned about. Reassure yourself that until you see such a result, you do not need to worry. Your supports will be there for you if or when that happens.

Practice relaxing as well. The more you practice, the easier it will be to get yourself to calm down if you do worry. Here is a guide to help you practice:

http://www.guidetopsychology.com/pmr.htm

Also try exercise. It helps to increase your endorphins which are "feel good" brain chemicals. This can help you counteract the effects of worry and also helps you relax when you need to.

I hope this has helped you,
Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5559
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Mental Health Professional
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Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.