It is reported that 30% of patients undergoing cancer treatment have significant mental health challenges. People with cancer experience depression or major depressive disorders. Understandably so, battling to survive a life-threatening disease may take a toll on mental health. It’s not just the cancer patient who goes through depression but their family, friends, and loved ones as well.
If you are diagnosed with cancer or have a family member going through this challenging stage in life, please make mental health care a priority. Seek help and extend your support as much as you can. This article will explore the mental health needs of people with cancer to help you or someone you love deal with the emotional and mental challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis.
What You Need to Know About the Mental Health of Cancer Patients
Hearing the news for the first time that you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer is a challenging emotional moment. Anxiety, feelings of depression, and fear are the most common feelings cancer patients experience during this tough time. It’s hard to tell if a person with cancer is going through depression because the symptoms are similar to those of depression, such as lack of sleep, fatigue, or changes in eating patterns.
Not only are you battling to survive cancer, but you’re also trying to be strong in taking care of your mental health. People with cancer battle mental health issues like anxiety disorders, distress, and depression. Family members who are the primary caregivers of cancer patients also experience anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
That is why your primary care doctor may recommend collaborative care interventions for cancer. Along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, consulting with a mental health professional is included as well.
Mental Health Treatment for Cancer Patients
People with cancer need help to avoid or manage health problems. Mental health professionals can help cancer patients identify positive coping mechanisms, manage stress, pinpoint and mitigate risky behaviors (such as drinking or substance use), encourage an active lifestyle, and teach patients how to attain a better quality of life.
Battling cancer while experiencing mental health problems is not a good combination, as it may worsen the outcome. That is why the family and friends need to extend their help and support during this difficult time.
How can a person fight cancer when they feel depressed all the time? Cancer patients who experience a mental health condition are most likely not to comply with the treatment plan because they feel sad most of the time.
Some who feel depressed don’t feel like eating. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is decreased appetite. If a person undergoing chemotherapy is depressed, how will the cancer patient get the nutrition they need for their body to fight cancer? How can a cancer patient fully recover when they are unable to get full 8 hours of sleep every day? The body needs to fight the cancer cells, but recovery is more difficult if the body lacks sleep.
Can Mental Health Treatments Help in Survival Rates?
Yes, mental health treatments can help with the survival rates of cancer patients. A study revealed that cancer patients who sought mental health treatment had fewer symptoms of depression and had longer survival times, as opposed to cancer patients who are experiencing more symptoms of depression.
What Are the Mental Health Interventions for People With Cancer?
Cancer patients who seek mental help are more likely to have a better quality of life and are more compliant with their treatment. There are many mental health interventions recommended for cancer patients who are also struggling with mental health conditions. Here are some of the mental health interventions and how cancer patients can benefit from them:
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is beneficial for cancer patients to manage feelings, address negative thoughts, and explore insights on managing stress. A trained mental health professional can help you live a functional life.
2. Positive Lifestyle Changes
A diagnosis of chronic disease must not stop you from living an active and healthy life. An active and healthy life is much needed in cancer survival. A mental health professional can teach you how to eat healthily, get a full 8 hours of sleep, avoid unhealthy habits, and which exercise you can do if your cancer type allows it.
3. Relaxation Techniques
Cancer patients can practice relaxation techniques through deep breathing, visualization, mental imagery, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. Relaxation techniques are beneficial for cancer patients to manage stress.
4. Antidepressant and Anti-anxiety Medications
Prescription medications like lorazepam and diazepam can help cancer patients deal with anxiety and depression.
Psycho-oncology is used to help patients, their families, and caretakers in the management of cancer in all stages. Psycho-oncology is beneficial for managing mental health symptoms and advises how the family and caregivers take care of their mental health in this challenging time.
Counseling cancer patients, family, and caregivers can help them with problem-solving techniques to work through fear, grief, and negative emotions. Mental and emotional support should be of utmost priority for cancer patients, even cancer survivors.
During counseling, anger, fear, worry, stress, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness are addressed. A mental health professional can help you cope with your emotions, express your feelings, think positively, find ways to relax, and explore things to enjoy.
Where to Seek Mental Health Treatment
Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy are immunocompromised. It means that their immune system is very low, and they are highly susceptible to other diseases. Cancer patients are therefore recommended to stay at home as much as possible.
This is where Kentucky Counseling Center can help. Kentucky Counseling Center has telehealth care counseling services where appointments are made online or through the phone.
Mental health counseling with Kentucky Counseling Center is made convenient for people of all ages. Let KCC’s mental health professionals help you or a loved one get through a tough moment in your life. Schedule an appointment now.