What Impact does a Breast Cancer Diagnosis have on Psychological Well-being?
We understand that receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer can be one of the most distressing events a woman ever experiences and may not know where to turn for help. The distress typically continues even after the initial shock of diagnosis has passed.
As we begin what is often a lengthy treatment process, we may find ourselves faced with new problems. They may find their personal relationships in turmoil. They may feel tired all the time. They may be very worried about their symptoms, treatment and mortality. They may face discrimination from employers. Factors like these can contribute to chronic stress, anxiety and depression.
Why is it important to seek psychological help?
It’s completely normal for a breast cancer patient to feel overwhelmed post diagnosis. But this can cause negative emotions which can discourage a person from doing good and start doing things that are bad for anyone but especially worrisome for those with a serious disease. Women with breast cancer may start eating poorly, for instance, eating fewer meals and choosing foods of lower nutritional value. They may cut back on their exercise. They may have trouble getting a good night’s sleep and they may withdraw from family and friends. At the same time, these women may use alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs in an attempt to soothe themselves.
How can psychological treatment help women adjust?
Licensed psychologists and other mental health professionals with experience in breast cancer treatment can help a great deal. Their primary goal is to help women learn how to cope with the physical, emotional and lifestyle changes associated with cancer as well as with medical treatments that can be painful and traumatic. For some women, the focus may be on how to explain their illness to their children or how to deal with a partner’s response. For others, it may be on how to choose the right hospital or medical treatment. For still others, it may be on how to control stress, anxiety or depression.
By teaching patients problem-solving strategies in a supportive environment, psychologists help women work through their grief, fear and other emotions. For many women, this life-threatening crisis eventually proves to be an opportunity for life-enhancing personal growth.
This is where Individuals or groups, psychological interventions strive to help women adjust to their diagnosis, cope with treatment and come to terms with the disease’s impact on their lives. These interventions offer psychologists an opportunity to help women better understand breast cancer and its treatment by asking women open-ended questions about their assumptions, ideas for living life more fully and other matters. Although negative thoughts and feelings are addressed, most psychological interventions focus on problem-solving as women meet new challenges.
A breast cancer diagnosis can also affect a woman’s physical health, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Women who seek help from licensed psychologists with experience in breast cancer treatment can actually use the mind-body connection to their advantage to enhance both mental and physical health.
Moreover most of the times the need for psychological treatment may not end when medical treatment does. In fact, emotional recovery may take longer than physical recovery and is sometimes less predictable. Although societal pressure to get everything back to normal is intense, breast cancer survivors need time to create a new self-image that incorporates both the experience and their changed bodies.
Psychologists can help women achieve their goal and learn to cope with issues such as fears about recurrence and impatience, chronic stress and anxiety and so on.
Tags: breast cancer, psychological treatment , hope, cancer recovery, cancer journey, breast cancer impact, cancer stress, anxiety, mental well-being, cancer treatment, cancer patient, cancer survivor, fear of relapse, cancer recurrence, physical health, mental health, psychologists, cancer wellness