2019 is marked with many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about various emotional, physical and psychological health issues. February is marked by Cancer Prevention Awareness Month. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, about 50% of the most common U.S. cancer cases are preventable.
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There are many things that we can do to dramatically reduce our risk of certain cancers like taking steps to quit smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, protecting our skin, and getting vaccinated against viruses that cause certain cancers.
So what does a cancer diagnosis mean for your mental health? Any serious illness can impact mental health. For patients, caregivers, and their loved ones, going through cancer can be a devastating experience. Receiving a diagnosis, going through treatment protocols, and learning to live with limitations can cause depression and anxiety in many patients, as can side effects from the treatment itself. Studies show that nearly 30% of cancer patients were diagnosed with some type of mental health condition prior to the conclusion of their treatment. Managing mental health needs is a crucial part of the treatment process, and may even impact prognosis.
Treating mental health conditions in the cancer patient requires several special considerations. Often times it may not be possible to simply provide encouragement, positivity, or remind the patient that things will eventually get better, however, this does not mean that treating cancer patients with mental health conditions is not a priority or necessary. Mental health conditions are believed to be somewhat underdiagnosed in cancer patients, so it is wise to take a proactive approach.
Common treatment options may include (but are not limited to):
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
- DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)
- Support Groups
Mental health treatment should be an integrative part of caring for both the patient and those around them. With modern medicine, psychotherapy and peer support groups, neither the patient nor their loved ones need to suffer in silence. By seeking treatment for mental health conditions, patients will be able to focus more on their healing process. If you or someone you know has been impacted by a cancer diagnosis, please contact our clinic for support.
Sources: American Institute for Cancer Research, Psychology Today, World Mental Health Organization,