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Emotional highs and lows after transplant happen. But when feelings of anxiety, worry or feeling down won’t go away or get in the way of activities of everyday life, it’s time to ask for help. You can’t just “shake off” depression or anxiety, but both are very treatable.

Anxiety and Depression Image Danielle, transplant recipient

Symptoms of anxiety and depression

Symptoms of anxiety include feeling worried, fear or dread. Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, irritable or an “empty” mood that won’t go away
  • Sleeping more or less than usual or not being able to sleep
  • Not being interested or finding pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, including sex
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless, helpless or worthless
  • Thoughts of hurting or killing yourself

If you’ve had any of these symptoms on most days for 2 weeks or longer, it can be a sign that you need to ask for help. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and ask about what could help you. Your doctor might suggest a prescription medicine, talking to a therapist or both. Ask to see a therapist or counselor who has experience helping people who are recovering from a life-threatening illness or their caregivers.

If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, get help immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255) any time — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to talk with someone who can help. You can also dial 911 or go to your local hospital emergency department (ER).

Anxiety and Depression Living Now 3 Photo

Symptoms of PTSD

Sometimes the anxiety is so intense after going through a very difficult experience that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, develops. If untreated, PTSD may affect your relationships and your ability to function at home, school or work.

Some of the symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Bad dreams
  • Scary thoughts
  • Reliving your experience over and over
  • Feeling emotionally numb, guilty, depressed or worried
  • Feeling easily startled, tense or “on edge”

These symptoms may come early in your recovery or later on. If any of these symptoms last more than a few weeks, they might be PTSD. Tell your doctor about your symptoms. Many people with PTSD get better with medicines, counseling and/or group therapy.

CALL: 1 (888) 999-6743
Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central Time
All of our programs and resources are free.


Llame al: 1 (888) 999-6743
De lunes a viernes, de 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Horario central)

Finding meaning

Even if you’re still overcoming depression or anxiety, you may experience personal growth from all you’ve been through. Growth and meaning after transplant can come in many different ways. Brian, a caregiver, dealt with feelings of uncertainty and helplessness as he helped his wife through the difficult times after transplant. But, their family found positives along the way. “We had a lot to celebrate, and made a point of acknowledging every milestone we could,” he says. 

Reflecting on your transplant journey and how it has affected you can help you grow emotionally as you make meaning out of the experience. It may help to:

  • Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Look for positives or meaningful changes that have happened
  • Talk about your feelings with a counselor, social worker, psychologist or faith leader
  • Talk with others, perhaps at a support group, who have gone through similar experiences
  • Teach others about what you’ve learned through your experience

Talk to others who have been through transplant

You and your caregiver may find it helpful talk with others who have been through transplant. Our Be The Match Peer Connect program can connect you with a trained volunteer who’s been there. No matter where you’re at in the process, recipients and caregivers like you are available to talk by phone or email, sharing their experience and tips. Request a connection

The Be The Match® Patient Support Center offers free counseling services. We provide one-on-one support by phone to help you and your loved ones cope with transplant and recovery.