Cancer diagnosis and treatment is the greatest challenge for patients. Most individuals become stressed out after dealing with cancer and may experience anxiety and depression. Our bodies react in different ways during treatment. The most common mood changes include fatigue, panic, anxiety, irritability, depression, fear, worry, upset stomach, loss of interest in socialization, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, interest in alcohol, and difficulty with concentration.
During the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, you may experience several symptoms such as isolation, loss of identity, and loneliness. You may face difficulties talking with others about your condition. You may sometimes even face debilitating conditions such as difficulties with cognition and issues with body image. To add to it all, patients often go through relationship issues or financial crises during this trying period as they don’t get the sense of autonomy.
How the Disease and its Treatment may Affect you
Experts believe that the cancer disease trajectory, as well as its treatment course, can activate the immune system and trigger the secretion of inflammatory cytokines. When these cytokines enter the brain, they tend to influence the circuits and chemicals in the brain. Inflammatory circuits can cause anxiety, fatigue, depression, concentration, and memory impairment. Besides, chemotherapy affects individuals not just at the physical level but also at the emotional level. The most common effects of chemotherapy include loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and problems with sleep. Sometimes, the effects may be more severe and individuals may experience disorientation, confusion, and hallucination.
How to Deal with Emotional Side effects of Cancer
Symptoms like anxiety and depression may become chronic. The best way to deal with these and other emotional side effects of cancer is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you understand the precise cause of your symptoms as stress may be a major factor triggering them. The doctor may also advise consultation with a specialist to resolve your symptoms.
Sometimes, serious mood changes may require the involvement of a team of multi-disciplinary professionals including psychologists, social workers, clinicians, and psychiatrists. Some common approaches that help you deal with mood changes and other emotional concerns include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, and supportive psychotherapy. To elaborate, CBT involves techniques that deal with emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. Further, supportive therapy provides therapeutic support by integrating multiple techniques and models to improve self-esteem, regulate negative thinking, cope with stressors, and alleviate symptoms. Furthermore, most medical professionals prescribe anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication to deal with fatigue, insomnia, and problems with concentration.
The purpose of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) in cancer care is to coordinate several services for optimal management of cancer patients. MDTs can potentially improve the quality of life of cancer patients and deliver effective and efficient cancer care. Although they may face several challenges in terms of establishing good interpersonal relations or optimally functioning facilities, MDTs improve patient outcomes (Opeyemi Abdulrahman, 2011).
Besides, patients diagnosed with cancer also prefer informal psychosocial care as opposed to psychological interventions which are generally administered by psychologists (Daem et al., 2019). Many patients may choose to opt-out of the latter due to the stigma associated with it but may prefer psychosocial care as it is a positive and supportive therapy. In an interdisciplinary setting, nurses mostly contribute to psychosocial care.
Patients can also contribute to understanding the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and improve their quality of life. Understanding the nature of disease helps to remove the fear associated with it. Individuals diagnosed with cancer can inform their doctor and find other credible sources of information to understand their ailment. The journey from a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment can have a significant impact on the social, psychological, and financial condition of a patient. Any patient must consider these aspects and you must not feel fearful or worried when talking to your physician.
Patients can play an integral role in achieving a higher life quality by learning more about cancer. An effective way to minimize distress is to talk to your doctor about your feelings of despair, pain, and anxiety. Most cancer survivors fear that their painful and distressing condition may recur. To overcome these common concerns, bring up the topic with your doctor during follow-up appointments and undertake the proposed tests. Further, take good care of your body and keep yourself busy. Patients can effectively overcome body image issues by being prepared for reactions from people beforehand, enhancing appearance, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking social support. Cognitive difficulties may be handled effectively by having an organized environment, following a daily routine, sharing experiences, learning new skills, and reducing distractions. Furthermore, you can improve your psychological well-being by investing time and effort in mind-body techniques, seeking professional counseling, and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Another effective way to deal with the emotional effects of cancer includes assessing social support networks, which may be your friends and family, therapists, or other support groups. It is important to understand the needs of a patient and share relevant information. They must also be able to help the patient cope with stress related to cancer. Furthermore, patients must be willing to get help from their family and friends. Support networks are known to bring down anxiety levels and enhance the quality of life of patients. Patients feel less depressed and do not have suicidal thoughts. Finally, social support provides a sense of empowerment to ensure that they can manage side effects and have less anxiety and pain.
A Practical Approach to Resolving Psychosocial Symptoms of Breast Cancer
In this context, a relevant case study on psychosocial components of breast cancer was presented by Sudhanthra and Relton (n.d.). The case entailed the disease trajectory and interventions administered to a 41-year-old woman with emotional and psychological symptoms of stress and depression during her cancer journey. Fear and trauma were prominent and she had mood swings. To deal with her symptoms, the care team recommended social support for depression and anxiety. Family support was the chosen strategy to reduce distress. Other recommendations were mild physical activity, engaging in conversation, seeking counseling, and social support. The case study presents convincing evidence about the importance of dealing with emotional issues for patients fighting their battle with cancer.
**KareOptions **is committed to promoting the health of patients going through trying circumstances after being diagnosed with cancer. We connect patients to physicians specializing in multiple areas so that their precise emotional concerns are appropriately addressed. Our services include continuity of care (COC) for monitoring treatment, medical second opinion service for reviewing diagnosis (MSOS) for reviewing diagnosis and treatment pathways, transfer of care coordination (TOCC) to coordinate treatment plan at world-class facilities, and second opinion board review (SOBR) or a multidisciplinary review by experts.
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