Cancer And Its Definitive Link To Psychiatry

 

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Any serious medical condition can severely affect a person’s mental health. Cancer patients are not the only those who suffer from their illness, but their situation also devastates the people around them like their loved ones and caregivers.

According to Lillian Harris LCPC-C, “So much of mental health work is about giving people a space to be witnessed and held while sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human life.” Receiving news of a potentially deadly diagnosis, coping with limitations, and going through regular treatment protocols can cause mental disorders like anxiety and depression. Dealing with mental health requirements is essential in the treatment procedure and, on certain occasions, the psychiatry of it all can impact prognosis.

The Impact Of Cancer On Psychiatry

Some cancer patients may lose their capacity to be confident and independent. Others may find that their energy levels have plummeted and activities once enjoyed can no longer be done. Optimum care must be provided to facilitate bearable activities that the patient can experience with minimal utilization of energy.

Majority of cancer patients will experience a system that is comparable to grieving after the diagnosis is given during the palliative stage or end-of-life care. There is data backing up the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with both cancer patients and survivors. This evidence is directly a result of traumatic encounters that are associated with the illness, and because of the high potential of poor prognoses.

Treatments for cancer also cause anxiety and depression. A significant adverse effect of chemotherapy referred to as “chemo brain” causes mental fog, depression, fatigue, and other types of cognitive deterioration. The American Cancer Society published an article that shows the connection between chemo brain and depression and has identified that both are to be considered when dealing with cancer treatments.

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Managing Mental Health

Special considerations are required when treating mental illnesses in patients who are struggling with cancer. Depending on the severity or prognosis given by the oncologist, encouragement to have a positive outlook and reminding the patient that eventually, his or her condition will get better may not be possible but this does not signify that treating patients with cancer who have a mental illness is not essential. And because mental health problems are considered as underdiagnosed in patients with cancer, it is advisable to make a proactive resolution in detecting such conditions. As Erica Thompson, LMFT, LPCC explains, “Mental health struggles are real. They can be painful. You may feel alone. In some of the darkest times, you may feel like something is “wrong” with you to the core. ”

Common Mental Health Conditions

The commonly diagnosed mental health problems that cancer patients experience are those disorders that fall under the adjustment scale, which includes depression, anxiety, and other different stress coping and adaptation conditions. Consulting a therapist for psychotherapeutic treatments that are primarily aimed at cancer patients provides extensive guidance and support. “Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.” Chris Corbett, PsyD said.

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Mental Health With Family Members

Caregivers and family members of patients also have increased chances of having anxiety and depression; therefore, proactive support and guidance must also be given to preserve their mental health and deal with stress. Usually, family members experience a similar grieving process experienced by the cancer patient, mainly if the condition is terminal.

Due to their inability to be productive, which is mostly caused by changes in their socioeconomic status, family members who take care of cancer patients have increased the risk of having depression. For this reason, it is vital that family members and caregivers seek professional support once a cancer diagnosis is realized. Treatment for mental illness should always be integrated into caring for both the cancer patient and the people surrounding them

How Positive Attitude Made Me A Cancer Survivor

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There are many things in my life that I am truly thankful for, and one of which is surviving cancer. To be honest, I thought that my situation was a lost cause. It never crossed my mind that my illness would be cured; because I believed that cancer is undefeatable. When I found out that I have a malignant tumor, it felt like my world turned outside down. I was frightened of all the adverse effects that it can bring in my life. Most importantly, I feared death. I do not want to die at a young age, especially when I am at a point in my life where I just started a family and took a significant leap in my career.

Just when I was about to give up, there was a sudden turn of events. I met someone who inspired me to keep fighting. This person helped me to believe that better things are coming in my life. He told me that if I want to kick cancer out of my life, I needed to make an effort to make it happen. According to him, I have to start by changing my views about life. He made it so convenient and easy for me to change my attitude and to become more positive. After years of living life in gratitude and happiness, I became a cancer survivor.

Now, allow me to share with you how a positive attitude changed my life:

 

  1. It Made Me Want To Get Better 

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At first, I was hesitant to undergo chemotherapy sessions. Aside from it was quite exhausting; it was also exhausting on my part. I lost interest in going to the hospital and participating in all the healing sessions. “Most people have a loud inner critic which makes their life more stressful.” David Klow, a licensed therapist. That perfectly describes my situation. However, things changed when my friend told me to become positive. Because of a positive mind and attitude, I got the courage to show up for all appointments with my doctor.

 

  1. More Happy Hormones

Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC once stated that “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.” So my change in attitude also motivated me to exercise more. As such, I tried my best to become physically active. I started going to the gym or attending yoga classes. As you probably know by now, these activities can release endorphins all over the body. For this reason, I was always in a good mood. Whenever I exercise, I feel like there are helpful chemicals released all over the body. It was as if my cells are regenerated.

  1. I Started Eating Healthy 

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 Another great effect of a positive attitude is that it made me want to continue a healthy lifestyle. My doctor was happy with the development in the way I looked at my situation. I did everything I can to change my diet into a healthy one. I avoided soft drinks and junk foods. Instead, my daily diet consisted of vegetables and fruits. As the day goes by, eating greens became a part of my lifestyle. With this one change, I became a healthier individual. I strongly agree with Staci Lee Schnell, MS, CS, LMFT when she said, “Eating healthfully, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep are all important elements in a mentally and physically healthy life.”

I am forever grateful to that one friend of mine who helped me attract positivity in my life!

Understanding Chemotherapy And What To Expect

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Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases. Being diagnosed with cancer is often equated with palliative care and ultimately, death. More than ever, there is much research on different treatment and preventive strategies for cancer. In fact, many are seriously considering natural therapies, complementary and supplementary modalities, and Eastern medicine such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, and acupuncture but the accepted treatment in Western medicine: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Undergoing chemotherapy is something an individual with cancer should prepare. The effect of chemotherapy can be debilitating to a person for days at a time which will leave his/her responsibilities hanging.

Chemotherapy is defined as a drug treatment that utilizes potent chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in the body. Treatment protocol of cancer will vary depending on the origin, size and the immune system of the patient. These drugs can be used alone or in conjunction with other chemotherapeutic agents. Though chemotherapy is accepted, it still poses risks and side effects. Also, it cannot differentiate cancer and healthy cells as well as unable to specifically target affected cells. Chemotherapy is often used in cancer cases, but it can be used in other disease condition such as bone marrow diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

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Preparation for the side effects of chemotherapy will vary depending on the drug administered; however, it is wise to expect to experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, mouth sores, constipation, and bruising. These side effects might be felt immediately right after, days prior, or a few days after the treatment. Other than this, another concern to watch out for is long-lasting or delayed occurring effects like heart problems, damage to lung tissue, nerve damage, the risk for development of secondary cancer and kidney problems. In other words, it is like a double-edged sword. It has both risk and benefits.

Special Considerations

Since chemotherapy can disrupt daily living, it is wise to plan early on.  It is recommended to have a device to ensure easier access to the peripheral veins or implantation of central devices. Chemotherapy treatments are extremely damaging to the peripheral veins, and it is advisable to administer such drug through a central device.

The catheter or device will be surgically implanted into a large vein, and the most common site is in the chest. Blood tests will be prescribed, beforehand, to check for the liver and kidney function. Also, the status of the patient’s heart will also be crucial in determining the dosage of the drugs especially if the patient will use doxorubicin and epirubicin.

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Visit your dentist. You will need to check your dental health as well as check if there are signs of infection. Treatment of open cavities and existing infections will reduce the risk of complication during chemotherapy.

Before the start of the therapy, begin to have healthy eating habits. After the treatment, it might be helpful to share meals with family members or friends. Studies show that patients are more likely to eat when surrounded by people. When nothing seems appetizing, prepare soft, bland food like cooked cereals, mashed potatoes, and eggs.

On the first treatment, make sure you have enough sleep the night before and consume a light meal before going in the infusion unit. Ask family members or loved ones to accompany you to your first cycle.

The infusion will often take a few hours depending on the protocol. Bring a book, easy crafty projects, or laptop for movies, music, etc.

If it can add up to one’s well-being, consulting a spiritual advisor or counselor is also beneficial. You can find one at BetterHelp.com. They are professionals that are more than willing to help you on your journey to mental and emotional wellness during your cancer battle.

 

Cancer In Children: What Makes It Worse

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Cancer is reported as a rare health condition among children ages 0-19 years old. Nonetheless, it has been the leading cause of death by disease among children past infancy. In 2016, statistics reported that approximately 80,000 deaths of children worldwide were accounted for cancer. Childhood cancer differs from adult cancer due to various factors. One common ground is that most diseases are not due to the lifestyle element where adults’ cancer are linked. Cancer in children almost develops without any distressing symptom until it is detected, at most of the times, it is already in its advanced stage.

Researchers are still leaning towards heredity and genetics as the primary etiological agent for childhood cancer. The DNA mutations passed from the parent to the child increases the risk of a child to develop specific forms of cancer. Scientific investigations are still ongoing on finding other possible reasons for cancer development; because until now, there has not been a universal statement on its actual cause.

The Difference

Childhood cancer is not easy to take. Parents go to a cycle of grief and depression upon knowing the diagnosis. When the child undergoes a series of treatment, the financial aspect becomes a burden, and the after-effects of the surgery become a dark cloud whether the child survives or not.

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Compared to adults, cancer cells in children shows a good reaction to treatment showing good prognosis of survival. However, the side effects of the medication will take its toll after about several years later. Late-effects can occur to nearly 60% of childhood cancer survivors such as heart problem, hepatitis, sterility, sensory problems, and secondary cancers. Also, long-term medical follow-up is a significant concern to ensure that cancer processes are detected early if there are any.

Medical advancement in the treatment of childhood cancer has vastly improved its survival rate. Let’s take for example the case of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a most common childhood cancer that has dramatically increased its survival rate to 88% compared to less than 10% half-century ago. This is promising for this type of cancer. Other types of lymphoma, brain tumor, and soft tissue sarcoma remain to have a poor prognosis and low survival rates.

Other Effects

Experiencing cancer at an early age exposes the vulnerability of the child’s body. Cancer can be localized, or it can affect the whole-body system. If this happens, the child will have multiple medical problems to handle, and the ordeal of going through various treatments is not very welcoming. The different treatment modalities may also have some effects on the developmental stages of the child. Surgical interventions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, complex medication administration, and transplantations can have some positive impact, but the adverse reactions can sometimes take years to be detected.

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The financial aspect can also be a significant factor in consideration of surviving cancer. Some cancers require the newest form of treatments, and these are way out of budget for some families. Some medications are only available in some countries thus acquiring them will require the family and the child to travel and stay there for a duration of time. All of these falls under the financial factor. So, it is easy to say that if you don’t have enough financial resources, the chances of survival become nil.

Cancer is not always a good thing – at any age. Getting cancer is like getting a death sentence. The human response is only limited to facing the challenges it brings. The worst thing about having children with cancer is not always a welcoming idea. As parents, we tend to rationalize that they don’t deserve to suffer this condition. But then again, as humans, we tend to fight the battle at any cost. Fighting cancer is still one’s most significant battle there is—especially with children. At this point, all we can is wait and hope that the next treatment or scientific discovery can bring positive outcomes in overcoming cancer.

 

Preventive Health Strategies In Women Prone To Cancer

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Cancer was once considered a rarity, but nowadays statistics show that the incidence of cancer is steadily increasing. These may be attributed to various factors such as genetics, exposure to carcinogens, lifestyle, hazardous environment, and immune system.

Cancer – despite its groundbreaking research and extensive studies on treatment modalities – remains to be dreaded by many. It is comparable to receiving a life sentence because the individual with cancer knows the death is just lurking in the corners. The anxiety and anticipated grief associated with cancer are believed to be more stressful than the treatment itself. It forces individuals especially in early adulthood and not only the patients, but the family and loved ones to confront the reality of death and how fleeting and fragile life is. It is much better if you can understand the emotional and mental effects of grief through BetterHelp‘s website.

Set Your Battleground

If cancer runs in your family or you have loved ones who are fighting cancer or a cancer survivor, the idea of cancer happening to you is not farfetched. Having genetics susceptible to mutation does not mean 100 percent chance of developing cancer in the future. People with a family history or those under moderate-risk and high-risk category should not accept their fate sitting down.

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Preventive measures and screening tests are recommended by experts to prevent tumor growths or at least detect the cancer cells at the early stage. There are preventive programs available in different cancer centers.

In women, breast cancer is a prevalent type of cancer. While the incidence of this particular type of cancer is quite high as a comparison of the other types of cancer, the only consolation one ponders on is the fact that there is much research done explicitly for breast cancer and its treatment.

Also, the prognosis of breast cancer is high and the survivor rate quite favorable. High-risk women are often managed aggressively by oncologists. For instance, prophylaxis mastectomy and hysterectomy may be recommended for women who have a mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. These mutations are linked to breast and ovarian cancer. Also, these women will be under strict surveillance with six months of general physical examination checkup and monthly breast self-examination regardless of the age. Also, annual mammograms might be performed for women with high risk as early as 25 years old or 10 years younger than the age of the relative with the earliest breast cancer diagnosis in the family.

Lastly, chemoprophylaxis may be prescribed. Chemoprophylaxis is regulation of the endocrine system which plays a crucial role in the reduction of the risk of invasive and in-situ breast cancer. Examples of the medications given are Tamoxifen, Raloxifene, and Anastrozole.

Other Strategies

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More than this management of high-risk cases, it is still advisable to follow the general guidelines for ensuring a healthy and manageable lifestyle.  It is essential to lower down stress. Maintaining weight might be neglected, but excess weight predisposes one’s self to different forms of cancer. Next to the neglect is having an active activity level. Exercise is not only a mood booster but also, prevents obesity and the development of cancer. Consumption of green leafy vegetables, as well as fruits, moves us away from diseases and that includes cancer. Avoidance of carcinogens is quite essential because exposure to these chemicals is established to lead to cancer. Therefore, no smoking and avoid second and third-hand smoke. Please, take care of your overall health as much as you can.

 

 

Preparing For Cancer Treatment

The number of cancer cases diagnosed every year is steadily increasing. Many of us dread the diagnosis of cancer, even associating death to the disease. While it is true that some cancers are fatal and that some are diagnosed in the later stage which will mean reduced prognosis, more than ever, research and early diagnostic screenings are put in place to provide early and better detection, up to date evidence-based treatment regimen and continuous drug development. It is often said that surviving cancer is a battle and each warrior has a higher chance of winning when one is prepared and apt with the right weapons to succeed.

source: blogs.discovermagazine.com

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How To Face Cancer As A Couple 

If you need to deal with the cancer symptoms and treatments for months, one question that a curious fellow may ask is: “Do you still have time for love?” 

I know – there is no straightforward answer to that. Every patient has a unique way of handling their condition and relationships. Some individuals tend to swear off dating or getting married entirely to prevent “becoming a burden” to anyone. Others, meanwhile, do not give up on love and still form or maintain romance with someone special. 

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Effects Of Cancer Diagnosis On Marriage 

When a cancer specialist tells you that you have the disease and you speak with a religious leader, you will often hear them say, “God will not give you a challenge you cannot overcome” or “I will pray for your early recovery.” 

The former denotes that you are an active person, while the latter is a confirmation you only need prayers to complement the treatment you are getting. Both sentences, of course, have a way of making you feel better once you listen to them. It is as if cancer will not hurt you as much as it should since the big man in heaven will ease your pain. 

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Vaccination Against Cancer

Polio, smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, whooping cough, diphtheria, hepatitis B and neonatal tetanus were just among the fatal diseases that are now under control through widespread vaccination. Since the discovery of vaccines, science has found its way to improve human life, and vaccines have contributed a lot to this undertaking as they play an essential part of our wellness. Vaccines work by stimulating the production of antibodies and provide immunity for the body against fatal diseases. Continue reading

A Guideline In Enjoying Life Despite Having Cancer

Being a cancer patient can take a toll in your life. Most of your recent days will be spent in hospitals so that you can get your treatment. At the same time, your time will also be spent talking to your physician almost every week. The truth is that everything will start to become difficult for you. You will begin to feel bad about a lot of things because of your medical condition. When this happens for a long time, there is a possibility that your attitude will change. Aside from this, you may also become depressed or anxious most of the time.

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If you want to continue living life to the fullest despite having cancer, then make sure to read this interesting article from start to finish. We have gathered some of the unique tips to remember so that you can continue enjoying your life. Remember that having cancer does not mean the end of everything for you. There are still many things that can happen. Keep in mind that there are several cancer survivors around the world. You can be one of them as long as you focus on maintaining your physical health and improving your mental wellness.

Here are some of the essential things to remember:

Meet Up With Friends

One of the most common reactions of people with cancer is to keep themselves away from other individuals. A big part of you would want to lock up in your room and hide from your friends. Take note that it is okay to do this but only for a short period. As much as possible, get back on your routine and start meeting up with friends again. Remember that the more you spend time with these people, the better you will feel about life. “You know the ones—these are the people you know you can always call, text, or email when you need to feel a connection.” David Klow, a licensed therapist said.

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Take Time To Rest

Remind yourself that you already have a serious medical condition that needs attention. Stop yourself from doing things that can take up all of your energy. It can make the situation a lot worse on your part. As much as possible, learn how to take days off from your work or business. Enjoy at least a week of relaxation. You can travel to a new place where you can de-stress or stay at home, sleep, and make peace with yourself. Remember that “sleep can restore your mind and body. The immune system repairs itself and the brain rests and recharges while you sleep. Without enough sleep, you can’t function at your best,” says Dr. Aaron Kaplan, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist.

Talk To A Therapist

Knowing that you have an illness that can end your life at any time can be stressful on your part. Make sure that you get the help and support you need. If you are not comfortable discussing your issues and problems with a friend or family member, feel free to get professional help. All you must do is to find the best therapist in your local community and connect with the said individual. Set an appointment for a therapy session, and you can start from there. Put in mind that your mental wellness is essential at this point in your life. Because “connecting with a therapist can help you get through the “groundhog day” of never-ending cycles where you feel continually defeated.” Chris Oneth LMFT explains.

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Follow the practical techniques mentioned above to have a worry-free life despite having cancer.