Multiple Myeloma and Your Mental Well-Being: The Importance of Focusing on You

Learning About Your Mental Well-Being and Multiple Myeloma

This article is for people who are living with multiple myeloma and their care partners, or anyone who wants to learn more about multiple myeloma and mental well-being. The goal of this activity is to help you talk to and work with your doctor and healthcare team about your mental well-being.

You will learn about:

  • Multiple myeloma and its symptoms and complications (additional problems)

  • Multiple myeloma and impact on your quality of life and mental well-being

  • Your mental well-being over time and during your journey

  • Talking to your doctor and healthcare team and questions you can ask

Certain medicines listed may not be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for multiple myeloma but are recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

Test Your Knowledge 

Multiple Myeloma

Myeloma is a type of cancer that starts in plasma cells in bone marrow, where most blood cells are made. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell and part of your immune system, your body's natural defense system. 

With myeloma, cancerous plasma cells (myeloma cells) grow out of control and build up in the bone marrow crowding out normal cells. When myeloma cells grow and spread throughout the bone marrow, it's called multiple myeloma.

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms and Complications

The presence of myeloma cells and crowding out of normal cells can lead to symptoms and complications (additional problems) such as:

  • Low blood cell counts that may lead to fatigue (tiredness), weakness, bleeding, bruising, or infections

  • Bone problems, such as pain or breaks

  • High calcium levels that may cause constipation, belly pain, extreme thirst, or confusion

  • Kidney damage or failure that can cause weakness, shortness of breath, itchiness, or leg swelling

Multiple Myeloma and Your Mental Well-Being  

Living with multiple myeloma can affect you emotionally and mentally, as well as physically. This can impact your relationships and quality of life and may even affect response to treatment.

For both people who are living with multiple myeloma and their care partners, mental well-being can be affected at any point during your journey due to many factors, such as:

  • Feeling unsure about the diagnosis or how multiple myeloma may progress

  • Treatment response, changes, or side effects

  • If multiple myeloma gets worse or comes back

It's also common for the impact on mental well-being to change over time and as multiple myeloma changes.

Tiffany talks about her personal journey with multiple myeloma and getting support for her mental well-being.

Anxiety and Depression

Feeling sad, worried, or scared can be common both when first diagnosed and during your journey. But when these feelings last, it may mean that you're living with anxiety or depression. 

Anxiety is when you have too much worry and fear that's very strong, lasts, and happens frequently. Symptoms can also include being irritable or angry, trouble sleeping, tiredness, headaches, and stomachaches.

Depression is a mood disorder that causes sadness that won't go away and a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. Symptoms happen most of the day and nearly every day for 2 weeks or more.

Both anxiety and depression can interfere with your daily activities and may even affect treatment.

As a Care Partner

Providing care for someone while trying to manage other responsibilities and meet your own needs can feel overwhelming and stressful. Many care partners can experience physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, as well as conditions such as anxiety and depression.

So it's important to pay attention to your mental well-being and how it can be impacted over time. Remember to do things for yourself to help stay healthy. Taking care of your needs can help you take better care of someone else's.

It's also important to know that these feelings are not uncommon and recognizing them and getting care is important.

Robin talks about her journey as a care partner and taking care of her mental well-being.

Mental Well-Being During Your Journey

Understanding that mental well-being can be affected during your journey -- and that help is available -- is important. Many people can have a wide range of feelings and emotions and may wonder about the future or how things may change over time.

It can be common to have questions or concerns around topics such as:

  • Multiple myeloma as a condition that's treatable, but not currently curable

  • Possible relapse or relapses (when multiple myeloma comes back after treatment)

  • Impact on sleep and daily activities

  • Looking well, but not feeling well

  • Finances, now and in the long term

So whether you're living with multiple myeloma or are a care partner, talking to your doctor and healthcare team about your mental well-being is key.

Talking to Your Doctor and Healthcare Team

It's important to know that you are not alone. Your doctor and healthcare team are there for you and can help you find other support as well.

Be sure to ask them about what may happen with multiple myeloma over time, how it may progress, all treatment options, and creating a treatment plan that includes ways to help with mental well-being. When you're comfortable, you can also ask about any end-of-life planning so that you have the information you may need in advance.

Taking care of your mental well-being during your journey is important, and your team can help you get the support you need.

Questions You Can Ask 

Questions you can ask your doctor and healthcare team can include:

  • How can multiple myeloma affect mental well-being, including over time?

  • What can I do to help manage my mental well-being?

  • Could I be at risk for anxiety or depression, and are there symptoms I can look for?

  • How can I make sure I have the best quality of life possible?

  • Are there any lifestyle changes I should make?

  • What should I do if I start to feel stressed?

  • Are there other healthcare team members I should see?

  • Is there a support group I can join?

  • Where can I find more information and resources?

Test Your Knowledge

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View Additional Materials on this topic that you may find useful:

International Myeloma Foundation


Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Advice for Those Who Provide Care for People Who Are Living With Cancer

Helping People Who Are Living With Cancer Stay Mentally and Emotionally Healthy

Staying Healthy While You Provide Care

Support Group Locator

Authors and Disclosures

Clinician Reviewer

Karen Badal, MD, MPH

Senior Medical Education Director, Medscape, LLC.

Karen Badal, MD, MPH, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh

Associate Director, Content Development, Medscape, LLC.

Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh, has no relevant financial relationships.


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