Imagery is the traditional language of the subconscious of human beings. The sensory-based coding language revolves around the emotions of the mind/brain and detects outcomes in the form of drama, art, and poetry. This language involves intuitive, creative, visionary, insightful aspects, and dreams. It not only allows the mind to become more aware and composed but also plays a vital role in helping us change our perceptions based on internal and external surroundings. It is related to mind-body healing as the human body reciprocates to image-based suggestions of the conscious brain through symbols and pictures. The reason as to why mental imagery helps in mind-body healing is that the human body is more capable of showing swift responses to pictures than verbal suggestions. Imagery gives your unconscious self the benefit of communicating. Several people suffering from cancer encounter devastating side effects of the treatment, including anxiety, depression, and Fatigue. Chemotherapy comes with countless side effects that can last for quite long, even after the treatment is over. Guided Imagery thus helps in relieving these symptoms by understanding and utilizing audios and other forms.
In 2016, a study conducted to understand the vitality of Guided Imagery suggested that it moderately helped in managing and assisting chronic Pain caused by Cancer Treatment. Another study from 2014 suggests that Guided Imagery helps in substantially easing Anxiety and Depression levels.
Guided Imagery and Cancer
Although enough evidence isn’t available to provide the effectiveness of Guided Imagery in cancer, several studies have shown positive outcomes in healing side effects and cancer symptoms. Patients are being encouraged to utilize these therapies to maximally relieve their thoughts, thereby mitigating Stress levels.
Regulating cancer side effects and promoting wellness
It is obvious that conventional medical treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, etc. play a major role in treating cancer. Nonetheless, they also come with hazardous and painful side effects like nausea, chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite, etc. Combining mind-body therapies like Guided Imagery with these treatments can help patients alleviate Pain caused by the side effects, thereby promoting wellness.
Pre-cancer diagnosis emotional and psychological distress
Knowing that you have cancer and need to be diagnosed can be extremely devastating and traumatic. Moreover, if you have advanced cancer with a minimal survival chance, you may undergo high levels of psychological and emotional feelings, thereby feeling overwhelmed, scared, and unclear. Most patients that are newly diagnosed with specific cancers go through fearful, shocked, and passive-aggressive emotions. Sometimes, this Stress can get to an extreme life-threatening level. Guided imagery, thus, helps in relatively helping patients get through this Stress so that their treatments do not show adverse complexities.
Guided-Imagery with cancer
Extensive research is being done to understand the effectiveness of Guided Imagery in treating cancer. Here are a few of the common benefits of guided imagery- improving Stress levels for newly diagnosed cancer patients, enhancing the quality of life, enhancing the profession of Cancer Treatment outcome, lowering cancer-related chronic pain, stimulating blood flow and immunity, and coping with adverse effects.
- Depression and anxiety
Several reviews and studies suggest that Guided Imagery can relatively lower Anxiety and Depression levels in cancer patients, thereby enhancing their quality of life. Moreover, Guided Imagery combined with relevant mind-body techniques can help alleviate Stress levels and other adverse effects like mood Imbalance. According to a study from 2019, interactive Guided Imagery and PGR (progressive muscle relaxation) helped in calming pain-related distress caused by Breast Cancer treatments.
- Pain and Fatigue
About 50% to 70% of cancer patients suffer from chronic Pain caused by cancer treatments. Moreover, people with advanced cancer have a 65% chance of encountering high levels of Pain. This common symptom triggers stress, tension, and other emotions in the patient. Guided Imagery helps in relatively lowering the Pain while undergoing Cancer Treatment. A study from 2001 suggests that hypnosis helped in lowering the criticality of cancer-related Pain.
- Vomiting and Nausea
During most clinical trials, CSP (comprehensive coping strategy program) combined with Guided Imagery substantially helped in lowering Nausea in several patients who have Breast Cancer. This specifically came handy for the patients who underwent peripheral blood stem cell transplantation. According to a study from 2005, progressive muscle relaxation therapy combined with Guided Imagery helped in lowering side effects like Vomiting and Nausea in patients who have Breast Cancer. Several reviews have proven the vitality of this in treating chemotherapy-induced Vomiting and Nausea.
- Quality of life
One of the major benefits of Guided Imagery is that it relatively helps in enhancing the quality of life in cancer patients. Even after the Cancer Treatment is successful, patients have a risk of developing recurrent cancer. They can moreover experience an array of side effects for days or even months. Guided imagery, when combined with different mind/body approaches, can help in mitigating the risk of developing recurrent cancer and reducing adverse effects, thereby promoting the quality of life.
Read below to understand the cautions related to Guided Imagery and mind-body therapies.
- Patients may or may not relieve themselves through mind-body therapies by neglecting their thoughts and growing impatient. These techniques aim to help cancer patients recover from the excruciatingly daunting journey. They teach no to overthink and make something adverse out of it. Patients are advised to be more accepting and focus on getting better.
- Patients whose Anxiety are triggered by relaxation can tend to become more anxious. Patients with extreme and advanced cancer should make use of a certified and qualified health professional.
- Patients with severe mental illnesses based on dissociative and psychosis disorders might have trouble detecting and distinguishing between outer and inner reality. They should seek help through a qualified therapist.
- Guided imagery shouldn’t be utilized as an individual therapy but a combined and adjuvant therapy with different cancer treatments like Chemotherapy.