It is reported that 30% of the 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 but also the 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. Let us explore the mental health needs of people with cancer.
What You Need to Know About the Mental Health in 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 common feelings during this tough time. It’s hard to tell if a person with cancer is going through depression because the symptoms are alike: lack of sleep, fatigue, or changes in eating patterns.
Not only are you battling to survive cancer, but you’re trying to be strong in taking care of your mental health as well. People with cancer battle with mental health issues like anxiety disorders, distress, and depression. While the family members who are the primary caregivers also battle with anxiety and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
That is why your primary care doctor may recommend collaborative care interventions for cancer. Together 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, how to manage stress, pinpoint and mitigate risky behaviors (such as drinking or substance use), encourage an active lifestyle, and how to live a better quality of life.
Battling with 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 the 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 and at the same time 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 he/she is unable to get full 8 hours of sleep every day? The body needs to fight the cancer cells, but the recovery is more challenging when the body lacks sleep.
Can Mental Health Treatments Help in Survival Rates?
Yes, mental health treatments can help with the survival rates in cancer patients. A study was conducted 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 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 that are also struggling with mental health conditions. Here are some of the mental health interventions and how cancer patients can benefit from them.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is beneficial for cancer patients to manage feelings, address negative thoughts, and explore insights on how to manage stress. A trained mental health professional can help you live a functional everyday life.
Follow an Active Life
A diagnosis of chronic disease must not stop you from living an active and healthy life. Just come to think of it, an active and healthy life is much needed in cancer patients. A mental health professional can help you achieve how to eat healthily, get a full 8 hours of sleep, exercise if you can, avoid unhealthy habits and make sure your body can fight cancer.
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.
Antidepressant and Anti-anxiety Medications
Prescription medications like Lorazepam and Diazepam can help cancer patients with their anxiety and depression.
Psycho-oncology is used to help patients, their families, and caretakers in the management of cancer in all of the stages. Psycho-oncology is beneficial for managing mental health symptoms and how the family and caregivers take care of their mental health in this challenging time.
Counseling cancer patients, family, and caregivers can help engage 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 for 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 diseases. With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, it’s recommended for cancer patients to stay at home as much as possible.
So how do you seek mental health counseling? That’s where Kentucky Counseling Center can help. Kentucky Counseling Center has Telehealth Care Counseling services where appointments are online or through the phone. Mental health counseling with Kentucky Counseling Center is made convenient for people of all ages. Let the mental health professionals help you or a loved one get through a tough moment in your life. Schedule an appointment now.