Mental Health

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How can prostate cancer treatment affect your mental health?

Prostate cancer treatment can cause physical side effects, but it may also affect your mental health and emotional wellbeing with low mood, mood swings, changes in memory and concentration, or anxiety or depression. These symptoms can be mild or more challenging.  

Some treatments such as chemotherapy and hormone therapy can have a direct effect on your ability to think clearly, remember things, learn new information and feel good about yourself. While treatments that cause changes to your bladder, bowel, sexual function, bone health or energy levels may also affect how you feel emotionally. 

These changes in your mental health can be due to the type of treatments you are on, your age, your coping strategies, some types of medications and other health issues. 

The aim of this section of your toolkit is to help you understand what treatments can cause changes in your mental health and how you can feel supported and/or find the resources you need to look after your wellbeing. 

What prostate cancer treatments can directly affect your mental wellbeing?

All treatments for prostate cancer, (including active surveillance) may affect your mental health to some degree.  Changing or starting treatment and waiting for test results can also affect how you feel.  

Follow this link to learn more about treatment Side Effects

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy can cause you to feel low and tired or experience other mood changes. If you are also having hormone therapy, you may experience memory problems.


Chemotherapy is known for causing what is often called chemo-brain. This is also described as brain fog – where you may feel confused or have trouble paying attention, finding the right words and/or remembering new things. This may last for a short time or for many years. The type of chemotherapy you have may affect how you feel. 

Chemotherapy may also make you feel fatigued (very tired) or sick, which can impact your brain function and how you manage your emotions. 

Hormone therapy

Testosterone is a major sex hormone in men that helps with your emotional responses, memory and concentration. Hormone therapy reduces your testosterone levels and activity and so may affect your cognitive function. These side effects often stop after you finish hormone therapy, so it is thought they may be due to lowered testosterone levels. Like chemotherapy, you may experience a type of chemo-brain.

Hormone therapy can affect your:

  • Ability to think clearly
  • Concentration and focus
  • Memory 
  • Ability to process information
  • Mood – you may feel low, more anxious, depressed or have mood swings
  • Ability to manage your emotions and stress

You may also experience some of these symptoms because of other hormone therapy side effects, such as hot flushes, effects on sexual function or tiredness (fatigue). 

Managing the mental health side effects of prostate cancer treatment

There are many things you can do to improve and help you manage your mental health during and after prostate cancer treatment. 

If you urgently need mental health support call Lifeline on 13 11 44 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636. If you need urgent medical help, call 000. 

For general advice and resources for supporting your mental wellbeing before, during and after treatment follow the links below: 

If you have any changes in your mental health or feelings that become overwhelming to the point that they are affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor or a member of your healthcare team. They can provide you with more information and support or refer you to another professional, like a counsellor or psychologist. Your doctor may also review your current treatment and medications. 

You may want to explore some support groups near you and/or reach out to a PCFA nurse on 1800 22 00 99 for extra support and resources or to discuss the Prostate Cancer Counselling Service

Key Points

  • All prostate cancer treatments can affect your emotional or mental wellbeing to varying degrees
  • Physical side effects of treatment can have effects on your mental health
  • Radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy treatments can have direct effects on your emotional and cognitive health
  • Chemotherapy can sometimes cause ‘chemo-brain’, which is sometimes decribed as a  brainfog where you have trouble concentrating, remembering things or finding the right words
  • Hormone therapy reduces testosterone levels, which may affect your mood, concentration, focus and ability to manage your emotions and stress
  • Effects on mental health may occur during treatments and/or for a short or long time after stopping treatment, depending on the therapy
  • Your health care team, support groups and PCFA nurses can provide you with emotional support and guidance