A cancer diagnosis can evoke many emotions, including anxiety, confusion, depression and anger. These feelings are a natural part of the journey and talking through them can help patients come to a more positive, hopeful state of mind.
Mental health is an often overlooked, but very important factor in cancer treatment. How patients deal with emotions during treatment could play an important role in overall well-being. Speaking to a professional during this time can help patients remember that cancer isn’t who you are, it’s what you have.
Incorporating psychosocial support into comprehensive cancer care will soon be an accreditation requirement from the American College of Surgeons Commission on cancer, according to an editorial in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The editorial states that beginning in 2015, the commission will require that to receive accreditation as a cancer center, institutions must have in place a formal process for screening patients for psychosocial distress and providing services as needed.
The benefits of talking with a therapist during cancer treatment are typically the result of providing a safe place for patients to:
- Work through the side effects and discomfort caused by cancer treatment, such as body-image issues, interpersonal concerns and other stresses.
- Open up about their fears and anxieties in a different way than they would to a loved one, who they may feel the need to protect.
- Find an additional support system.
- Improve coping skills and manage energy levels during treatment.
- Learn strategies to address anxieties and fears, instead of ignoring them.
- Embrace living in the “now” instead of only focusing on the unknowns in the future.