Mental Health & Breast Cancer Care

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Mental Health & Breast Cancer Care

What is the psychological impact of a breast cancer diagnosis?

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis might be one of the most upsetting situations a woman can go through. And women may be unsure of where to seek assistance.

Distress usually persists after the initial shock of the diagnosis has worn off. As women begin what is sometimes a protracted treatment procedure, they may encounter additional challenges. Personal connections, for example, maybe in disarray. They may be exhausted all of the time. They may be concerned about their symptoms, treatment, and death. Employers or insurance companies may discriminate against them.

These and other factors can all lead to persistent stress, anxiety, and depression.

Why is it essential to get psychological assistance?

Overwhelming is a totally natural reaction to a breast cancer diagnosis.

Negative emotions, on the other hand, might encourage women to stop doing things that are good for them and start doing things that are harmful to anybody, but especially dangerous for those suffering from a serious sickness.

Women with breast cancer may begin to eat poorly, such as eating fewer meals and selecting foods with lesser nutritional value. They may reduce their physical activity. They may struggle to get a decent night's sleep. They may also isolate themselves from family and friends. At the same time, these women may seek solace via the use of alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, or other substances.

A breast cancer diagnosis can potentially lead to more serious complications. For some women, for example, the news causes depression, making it more difficult for them to adjust, make the most of therapy, and make use of whatever social support is available. Some women feel so disappointed by their cancer experience that they refuse surgery or simply stop attending radiation or chemotherapy visits.

According to a study, depression can also reduce women's survival. According to one study, death rates were up to 26 times higher in patients with depressive symptoms and 39 times higher in individuals with serious depression.

How might psychological counseling assist women in adjusting?

Licensed psychologists and other mental health experts with breast cancer treatment expertise can be quite beneficial. Their major purpose is to assist women in learning how to cope with the physical, mental, and behavioral changes connected with cancer, as well as unpleasant and stressful medical treatments.

Some women may be concerned about how to explain their condition to their children or how to deal with a partner's reaction. Others may be concerned with how to select the best hospital or medical therapy. Others may focus on how to manage stress, anxiety, or sadness.

Psychologists assist women in working through their sorrow, fear, and other emotions by teaching them problem-solving methods in a supportive atmosphere. This life-threatening situation becomes a chance for life-enhancing personal growth for many women.

Patients with breast cancer are not the only ones who can benefit from psychological treatment. Partners may also be in pain. Males whose spouses had breast cancer, for example, were about 40% more likely than other men to be hospitalized for severe depression and other mood disorders, according to one research. 

Psychologists can assist couples in navigating the difficult task of providing both emotional and practical assistance while also coping with their own feelings. Children, parents, and caregiver companions can all benefit from psychological therapy.

Psychological treatment may be required in addition to medical treatment. In fact, emotional rehabilitation might be more difficult and unpredictable than physical recovery. Despite enormous societal pressure to return to normalcy, breast cancer survivors require time to develop a new self-image that encompasses both the experience and their altered bodies. Psychologists may assist women in achieving that objective and learning to manage with concerns like recurring anxieties and irritation with life's more commonplace challenges.

Can psychiatric treatment benefit the physical as well?

Absolutely. Consider nausea and vomiting that frequently accompany chemotherapy. These adverse effects can be severe enough for some women to reject further therapy. Psychologists can teach women relaxation techniques, meditation, self-hypnosis, visualization, and other skills that can successfully reduce nausea without the adverse effects associated with prescription treatments.

Psychologists can also help women make better-educated decisions in the face of sometimes contradictory information and communicate more effectively with their healthcare professionals. In brief, psychologists can assist women in becoming more actively involved in their own therapy. As a result, there is a better awareness of the condition and its treatment, as well as a higher willingness to do what is necessary to recover.

Psychological treatment may potentially improve the odds of survival for women. In one study, for example, a reduction in depressive symptoms was linked to a longer lifetime in individuals with metastatic breast cancer. 

Such findings highlight the significance of psychological treatments. Researchers looked at the impact of psychologist-led small group sessions that gave techniques for stress reduction, mood improvement, modifying health-related behaviors, and sticking to treatment and care in one study. Breast cancer patients in the groups had a 45% reduced probability of their disease returning and a 56% lower risk of dying from breast cancer. When the researchers eliminated patients who attended fewer than 20% of the sessions, the remaining individuals had a 68% decreased chance of dying from breast cancer.