People diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness experience many losses. Each person will respond in their own way and the same person may respond differently across their period of illness. How a person copes depends on the severity of the illness, their history of coping with stressful life events, and supports available to them.
Distress may range from painful emotional states that come and go as part of the adjustment process, to significant mental health problems (e.g. anxiety, depression) requiring specialised help.
Distress may be related to a range of emotional concerns, social and family worries, or concerns about symptoms, future disease trajectory and treatment options. These concerns often include:
High levels of distress can affect a person’s ability to cope with illness, the symptoms they experience, their functional status, their ability to make decisions about treatment and care, and the outcome of their care.
Download the NCCN Distress Thermometer (167kb pdf)
Download NCCN Distress Thermometer
Routine screening for distress is important because these problems may not be raised spontaneously by people in your care. Timely supportive care can greatly improve the person’s quality of life. You can:
'What activities and which relationships bring you the most joy and meaning?'
This information was drawn from the following resources:
Visit Providing emotional Care on Marie Curie website
Visit NCCI Distress Screening Tools
Access more Assessing Distress Resources
Page updated 14 November 2022