Monday, September 11, 2017

Here’s how you can stop cancer from hurting you psychologically

Dr. Christopher Peterson

Dr. Christopher Peterson 

By Dr Chris Peterson

From the moment you find out you have cancer; a wide range of emotions can wash over you. You might afraid, angry, and sad or have some other difficult-to name emotion. It’s normal to struggle, but if these emotions go unchecked, they can spiral into depression, anxiety or even post-traumatic depression disorders.

How can tell you coping well emotionally or not? Be aware of signs of deeper problems and know what to expect during treatment. These can help you take control of your mental health. And that, in turn, can have a positive effect in your cancer treatment.

If you think you have mental health problem related to having cancer or its treatment, there are professionally trained people who can help. Talk to your doctor can ask him or her to refer you to psychiatrist or therapist. It is important to ask for mental health professional that specializes in cancer patients.

A psychiatrist will discuss your feelings and symptoms and suggest the best skills for coping. He or she can also help you prescribing antidepressants or medications of anxiety or to help you sleep.

A therapist will likely treat you with cognitive-behavioral therapy, a practice that helps you focus on relationships among your thoughts, actions and emotions. It can work well to help you control your depression and anxiety.

Watch for signs of serious depression

It’s normal to feel down during cancer treatment. Your body is probably changing in unpleasant ways. Sometimes you are not able to do the things you are used to doing. You may have to cut back on your work hours or stop working altogether. Some of your relationships may feel strained. All of these things can take a toll of your mental health and lead to low moods. But if you are feeling persistently down, depression is a possible culprit.

Watch out for these symptoms: persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness, loss of interest and enjoyment in usual activities, reduced self esteem and confidence, feelings of guilt and unworthiness, difficult concentrating, or making decisions as well as thoughts of suicide.

Don’t let anxiety rule your life

Nobody gets through cancer treatment without worry: will I be OK?, can I keep up with my bills? Is my family able to handle this? Will my life ever go back to normal? You may find, however, that your worry has tipped over into full-blown anxiety. And that makes a bad situation even worse.

If you are frequently worried or have feelings of panic and can’t control worrying thoughts, you may have anxiety. Anxiety can also make you feel restless, keyed up or on edge even though you might also feel fatigued. Other symptoms include: difficult concentrating or your mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep.

You may also experience panic attacks, with increased heart rate, racing thoughts, hyperventilation, dizziness or woozness, sweating and feelings of impending doom. You should seek help to keep these overwhelming feelings and worries in check.

•How post-traumatic stress disorders fits in.

Most people associate post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) wit combat veterans. But you can develop PTSD after any kind of trauma, including medical trauma. If you have completed cancer treatment, but you are still feeling haunted by the experience, PTSD could be the reason why.

PTSD can cause you to have intrusive thoughts pop up out of nowhere whether you want to think about them or not. You might have nightmares about the event or flashbacks-feelings that you are experiencing the event. You also might have difficulty falling or staying asleep.

As a result, you might avoid thoughts, feelings, or situations connected to the event or have memory problems related to it.

Watch for these other symptoms:

• Being stacked in severe emotions related to the trauma (e.g. horror, shame or sadness)