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Mental Health Among Cancer Survivors

19 February, 2021 Darshita Srivastava

Cancer survivors are often affected by mental health problems. But for some patients, talking about these challenges is more difficult than talking about physical health concerns. These are not always easy conversations for providers to start either.

Cultural beliefs and worries about stigma, negative attitudes about mental health, can all play a role in how difficult these times can be. Mental health issues walk hand in hand with cancer patients during and after the cancer diagnosis or treatment.

Cancer alone is hard to deal with, but also thinking about the mental health aspects of having this diagnosis and trying to deal with it is very difficult and challenging. A patient usually experiences back pain and sleeplessness while also undergoing physical therapy.

How does cancer affect my mental health?

You may experience symptoms very similar to PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) in the aftermath of a cancer diagnosis of themselves or of a loved one. Most times, there is a major fear of rejection that leads to an increase in anxiety levels. This fear could be in case a person has chemotherapy, breast cancer, or mastectomy where they might have recovered but they just don’t feel like their old selves anymore.

In such cases, it is important to understand the things that your anxiety wants to communicate. Anxiety is a part of the fight. It represents a reaction to a perceived threat and we need to explore this threat by monitoring our cognitive behavior of what are the facts for and against this belief. We need to make ourselves aware about the threat occurring which can be a threat to personal safety, relationships, self-esteem, etc.

1. Grief is another feeling that you experience which can be related to functional losses if you lose the ability to do things they used to do before cancer.

2. Losing a sense of confidence in oneself is another major mental issue as before cancer people believed themselves to be healthy but now they always scan to find out what’s wrong. It takes time and courage to have trust in their body again.

There’s also non-grief-related depression which is possibly related to the inflammation in people who are undergoing treatment. You may fear that the cancer is worsening and as a result you may also become hyper-aware of every change and symptom. It’s important to help these patients figure out how to deal with the hyper-awareness so it doesn’t increase their anxiety and contribute to the sense of powerlessness.

Cognitive cancer and the impact on the mental health

Cognitive cancer can really impact a person’s mental abilities. Cancer- related cognitive impairment (CRCI) can cause changes in memory, executive functioning that are organizing, decision-making, problem- solving, impulse control, attention, and processing speed. This occurs in 30% of patients prior to any treatment and up to 75% of patients during treatment.

Chemo brain is real and it’s important to recognize that cancer treatment itself, the chemo, radiation, and the chronic stress from cancer can be neuro-toxic which can contribute to cancer-related cognitive impairment.

At times, even after people have completed their chemotherapy it feels difficult for them to recover cognitively. One of the things we can do is to help people develop cognitive reserve.

Tips for good mental health:

  • Physically, CBD, a non-psychoactive component has been found to possess antioxidants that help in getting rid of stress and anti- inflammatory activity.
  • Vitamin-E deficiency can also be a cause. You should eat food such as peanuts, almonds, spinach, etc. and could prove to be very effective in reducing anxiety.
  • Vitamin-C-rich foods such as citrus fruits like oranges, broccoli, etc., and Vitamin-A-rich food such as cereals, carrots, etc. helps in reducing inflammation and improves mood.
  • Lycopene is a substance that’s typically present in red foods and most abundant in tomatoes. It is a good way to get rid of anxiety.
  • Selenium is another beneficial mineral that is associated with the improvement of mood and prevention of cancer.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, soybeans, walnuts, etc. are the most important things to take in order to reduce inflammation which helps in reducing stress and hence, the risk of cancer goes down and the mood goes up. Also, Omega-6 increases inflammation and hence should be eaten in balance with omega-3.

 

For Cancer Treatment and Medication, there are various types of anticancer medicines and injections that can be order online by any reputed online pharmacy.

#cancer #cancersurvivor #mentalhealth #cognitivecancer #pharmacyonline #3meds