by Ruth Riley
A cancer diagnosis can impact patients’, families’, and caregivers’ emotional health. Anxiety, worry, and depression are common emotions during this life-altering encounter.
Consequently, patients diagnosed with cancer experience significant challenges in fulfilling their roles at home, school, or work.
Moreover, different types of cancer also affect individuals with cancer differently. For example, mesothelioma, an aggressive type of cancer usually diagnosed at an advanced stage, can make patients think there’s no longer value in treating the disease.
However, there are various ways mesothelioma patients can improve their quality of life depending on the level of their condition. Suppose you seek to alleviate mesothelioma’s adverse effects effectively.
In that case, you may want to know more about the different stages of mesothelioma. Patients with cancer often face unique emotional and mental health challenges.
It’s essential to understand what they’re going through so you can better address their needs. How does cancer affect the emotional and psychological well-being of a cancer patient?
How can cancer patients effectively manage emotional and psychological distress? This article provides vital information regarding cancer’s emotional and psychological effects and how individuals can effectively manage them.
The Emotional and Psychological Effects of Cancer
Anxiety means discomfort, worry, or fear about an actual or possible situation. Identifying anxiety and taking steps to manage it or stop it from worsening is vital.
Anxiety is often an everyday issue for individuals with cancer and those who care for them. Cancer patients, their families, and caregivers can feel anxious or fearful during treatment and recovery.
For instance, discovering a lump or other potential cancer signs or symptoms can trigger worry and anxiety. Cancer recurrence can also affect patients in the same way.
In addition, apprehension, or the feeling that something terrible will happen, usually result from fear of treatment procedures or frequent doctor visits.
According to cancer.org, anxiety’s signs and symptoms include the following:
- Difficulty focusing and solving problems
- Dry mouth
- Irritability or explosive anger (grouchy or short-tempered)
- Muscle tension (the individual may appear tense or tight)
- Shaking or trembling
- Anxious facial expressions
- Excessive worry
Patients and their families usually experience feelings of depression when coping with cancer.
Feelings of sadness and grief are normal as plans, goals, and the future may all seem unclear. However, there is a reasonable cause for concern if an individual experiences depression for an extended period or struggles with daily tasks.
Depression can range from mild, passing moments of sadness to more serious, long-lasting conditions. Clinical or major depression refers to the more severe types of the disorder.
Major or clinical depression makes it more challenging for an individual to function and adhere to treatment plans. This situation happens in 1 out of 4 cancer patients.
Moreover, people with depression are likelier to have depression after their cancer diagnosis.
Below are some warning signs and symptoms that indicate the need for depression treatment from a professional:
- Almost daily, for most of the day, an ongoing hopeless, depressed, or “empty” mood
- Problems with concentration, memory, or decision-making
- Frequent suicidal ideation, attempts, or thoughts
- Sleep changes (inability to sleep, sudden waking, or oversleeping)
- Loss of enjoyment or interest in once-enjoyed activities
- Substantial weight gain or decrease (without dieting)
- Extreme fatigue or low energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and helplessness
- Mood swings from depression to agitation and high energy
Managing Emotional and Psychological Distress in Patients With Cancer
Below are two ways to help manage emotional and psychological issues among patients with cancer:
Have a Social Support Network
Individuals with cancer shouldn’t feel embarrassed to approach their friends and family for assistance. A patient’s support network members can help ensure they attend medical appointments or be there to listen to their concerns.
A patient’s social support network includes friends, family members, and spouses. Meanwhile, therapy or support groups are other forms of social help. These caregivers must pay attention to the specific needs and worries of their loved ones.
For instance, they must consider the patient’s wish to discuss their cancer, available treatments, and prognosis. An attentive and caring support system can considerably alleviate the burden of living with cancer.
Seek Professional Help and Treatment
Consulting with professionals who administer correct treatment is another crucial step in maintaining cancer patients’ emotional and mental health.
For instance, medical professionals can help reduce patients’ anxiety by providing additional information about their cancer through psychological treatments and medication.
Cancer Quest addressed the underlying condition can also help ease anxiety in individuals who experience pain from a hormone-producing tumor or drug side effects.
For people with depression, professionals can offer two different treatments: pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy.
Pharmacotherapy involves using prescription antidepressants. This procedure helps address the brain’s chemical and biological imbalance.
On the other hand, patients can learn how to better deal with their mental and emotional distress through psychotherapy. Counseling, breathing exercises, cancer education, hypnotherapy, and support groups can all be a part of this strategy.
Research suggests that combining medication and psychotherapy works best for treating cancer-related depression.
- Emotional and Psychosocial Effects of Cancer