Doctor: I am sorry to tell you that you….you have cancer.
Patient: Oh God!!! No…….
The Initial Stages
Many people have faced situations like this in their lives. When the doctor tells them the truth it comes as a rude shock and the situation becomes very hard to bear. If people face a disease as deadly as cancer it can have quite a tormenting effect. They would lose their sleep, their appetite and the control of their mind. At that point of time the question that would arise in the minds of the patients will be “Will I be able to survive it?” The initial torment would at first be severely unbearable. They will brood over their state of affairs and be depressed at all times pondering about the ways of treatment and the cost that would be incurred. All in all it would appear to them as a fruitless exercise for survival.
What problems overwhelm the patients?
Patients suffering from cancer will be bothered with mental problems throughout – from the initial stages, through the treatment and post treatment. More or less the effects would be the same for all of them:
• Losing appetite and facing sleep problems
• Finding no pleasure in anything and everything appearing bleak
• Having a sense of disinterest in the normal activities
• Having problems of concentration, keeping a hold upon one’s mind and breathing difficulties
• Lastly, they may have a feeling of committing suicide
The Need for Mental Support
Studies have revealed that half of the cancer patients suffer from depression and anxiety related problems. These problems can have a drastic effect upon the minds of the patients and the response to medication. What is required in these situations is the mental support that would give them the desire to live. The counseling is offered by psychiatrists employed by the cancer treatment center or from outside. Sometimes strong willed patients and survivors too get involved in providing counseling to the patients. Then there are support groups and forums that help overcome the mental burden that affects them. Unfortunately, not many patients get that sort of mental treatment or counseling.
The Type of Support for the Patients
Receiving cancer treatment can have a torrid time upon the minds of the patients. They experience elevated levels of stress, anxiety and hopelessness. However, with proper counseling they will respond more to medication and have a better chance of survival. The different types of treatment provided vary from person to person depending on how they respond:
• Almost all the patients are provided with counseling for the crisis that is plaguing them at the moment
• A thorough evaluation is made regarding their psychiatric conditions and are provided with anti depressants if necessary
• Patients are given mental support on a one-to-one basis with the psychiatrist
• Sometimes even the patient’s family is involved to make them aware of remaining positive and how they could help him get through
Post treatment counseling
Having survived cancer, patients are still bothered about its recurrence. In this case they need to follow some steps that would give them the confidence to deal with their post-treatment stress and depression:
• Taking care of oneself is the first and foremost thing that cancer survivors need to do. This would ensure that they clear away their minds and reduce the chances of cancer bouncing back
• Finding relaxation in meditation and yoga can help reduce the burden of stress
• Joining a laughter club or asking near and dear ones to send them funny cards. A feeling of joy should always surround the survivors
• Joining support groups of survivors and getting involved in activities to keep oneself busy
• Exercising can be a good way to get the mind off negative thoughts and cultivating a feeling of positivity
The mental health of cancer patients can be very fragile and they need to be taken care of in a proper way. This would give them a better shot at recovery and a chance to survive.
Dr. Jane Alice Smith is a psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety disorder treatment, bipolar treatment and other mental disorders. She has years of experience in her field and has carried out extensive research in her work. She is also associated with various groups that support people to get over the mental effects of having cancer and AIDS. Whatever time she gets, she devotes it to her family and gardening.