No matter what the stage of cancer may be, the news of getting cancer is shocking and overwhelming to anyone. Today, the number of cancer cases is on the rise and more and more people are getting affected by cancer. According to 2021 data, the number of cancer patients has already surpassed 19 million worldwide. So, cancer has become one of the leading causes of death.
The emotional toll is not only on the patient but on the family and friends as well. Diagnosis of cancer can have a significant impact on mental health and well-being. Depression and anxiety can affect the treatment and recovery of cancer, as well as the quality of life and survival.
Emotional impacts of cancer
It’s quite obvious to be flooded by all sorts of emotions after being diagnosed with cancer. You can be shocked, sad, lonely, angry, guilty, and desperate. All these feelings are real and you can start accepting them.
Cancer is a loss for most people. You can lose your health. The overall appearance may change. Family relationships can also change. The heavy burden of cancer treatment can lead to financial setbacks. This is in addition to physical suffering. Therefore, you should also pay attention to your mental health. Mental health is so important that we cannot say we will meet another day.
During the course of treatment, it is very common to feel anxiety before and after the test. You may think that you are not healing the way you should have. You may feel sad, but it’s very common and natural. This can lead to depression. You may lose hope and have difficulty focusing on your day-to-day work or even getting out of bed. These are all signs of depression.
Even after a person recovers from cancer, he or she often doesn’t seem happy or partying. This may be because a person has been through a lot. The person may still be used to not going to the medical facility anymore. Research has found that cancer survivors are more often affected by anxiety and depression than those without a history of cancer.
Depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety are common factors affecting cancer patients. One should not hide their feelings and tell their doctors freely. Many think that fear is something only weak ones have. But it’s not true. Emotional and mental well-being is equally important. It can affect how your body reacts to treatment. So, express your feelings and pain to your physicians without any hesitation. Our brain is like any other body part and hence liable to be affected by any diseases like depression or anxiety.
Treatment of depression involves prescribing antidepressants. But the best approach is both pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. The same goes for anxiety too. Some medicines can be prescribed for anxiety or psychological interventions can be also helpful.
Fear and uncertainty
It is obvious for cancer patients to feel uncertain about their future and their fear engulfs them. This fear may manifest as anger sometimes and may become a source of chronic sadness. Apart from anger, people may feel guilt and blame themselves for making their families suffer.
Social support for the patients includes the patient’s family, friends, and caretakers. It might also mean therapists or support groups. There is a need for these social support groups to be sensitive and actively listen to patients. They should understand that the patient wants to know all about their conditions, treatment options, and also about their prognosis. Sharing and talking about such information will help the patients to relieve their stress and prepare mentally. Also, the patients should not hesitate to ask for help from their family and friends.
It will be difficult for a person if that person doesn’t have any support group. As this will lead to a high level of distress and anxiety. In fact, the quality of life will be affected by this. Studies have shown a positive psychological effect on cancer patients if they have a support group. It may even help to extend the life of the patients.
Relationships with family and friends
Having cancer might change a lot and relationships are one of them. Family relationships may change due to a cancer diagnosis. Sometimes the cancer patients find their stress is reduced after talking to their family and relationships might get stronger. While for some, it may lead to misunderstanding and frustration. In addition to coping with their feelings, cancer patients also have to deal with their family’s and friends’ emotions.
Self-image and body changes
A lot of change may occur to the patient’s body due to the treatment received. For instance, there might be hair loss, or weight loss and change. One might get scars due to the surgical operations. It is quite normal to feel upset and uncertain. People who are suffering from cancer in the reproductive organs might have some questions about their sexuality. It might even lead to changes in intimacy with the partners. The best way to deal with this kind of problem is to talk about this with your specialists. Unfortunately, there are limited options to help with such kinds of problems.
First thing, you can talk to your doctor about all the options available. You can even join a community and hear other people’s success stories. This will keep you motivated and might instil a sense of hope. Another thing to do can be to adopt any cognitive behavioural therapy after consulting your specialist. You can even practice mental health activities to boost your mental and physical health. Don’t confine yourself but you can get a hobby to fill your gaps. One should remember that optimism can work wonders.