Mental health and cancer have been the subject of many studies. Unfortunately, only a few experts are studying mesothelioma and its effect on mental health.
One of the few studies that highlighted the connection of mental health and mesothelioma was the one published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine in March 2018. Study findings of patients with mesothelioma showed that they have stress reactions and often experience severe psychological distress. The study showed that the illness causes anxiety, depression, shock, difficulty with concentration, dismay, apathy, social dysfunction, and short temper.
Other factors that may contribute to these symptoms are the patient receiving a potentially fatal medical diagnosis, adjusting to a life with so many limitations, and undergoing treatment sessions. Some are feeling stressed because they have to deal with lawsuits concerning their condition. According to Bergman Legal, most patients they dealt with were exposed to asbestos from their previous work.
Can Mental Health Factor in Cancer Therapy?
Mesothelioma patients are in a constant struggle dealing with stress. They need mental health care professionals to support them. It is also helpful when health care professionals have good communication skills that can help decrease the levels of trauma, anxiety, and other symptoms of mesothelioma. Some of these patients may lose their drive to be independent, and their energy levels go down as well as their usual activities. People with mesothelioma need extra care and encouragement to fight their illness.
A patient may experience a lot of depression and anxiety, which can be the result of cancer treatments. Chemotherapy may result in chemo brain, which is essentially mental fog and other cognitive impairments. The radiation can also cause nausea and fatigue to patients going through this treatment.
Should Mental Health be a Concern for Cancer Patients?
A study from the National Cancer Institute states that 25 percent of those diagnosed with cancer experience depression and anxiety compared to only seven percent of adults in the general population. These alarming statistics show that the stress caused by cancer increases some forms of mental illness in patients.
Mesothelioma patients have “sickness behavior,” where a patient may experience loss of appetite, fever, trouble making decisions, heightened pain response, depression, anxiety, and poor concentration.
Addressing Mental Health Crisis During a Cancer Diagnosis
Locating the Right Treatment Facility
It is rare to find a mesothelioma specialist in any cancer treatment facility. Mesothelioma is a rare condition, so there are only a few specialists who can treat this kind of situation. It means patients with mesothelioma should not be discouraged if there are no specialists around the treatment facility. Some oncologists are experts in handling mesothelioma, while some seek support or a second opinion from other doctors.
Medical records are vital to keeping track of a patient’s history from the initial signs or symptoms to ongoing clinical tests for proper diagnosis. Most treatment centers are very careful with these documents, especially when the patient is transferring to another facility. A patient’s information is vital for better mental health during radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other essential treatments.
Positive Care Works
Most illnesses a person experiences will have an impact on their mental health. A person with mesothelioma will start their healing process by receiving good help from experts. Many factors help a patient deal with mesothelioma like joining and participating in support groups, taking physical therapy sessions, having open legal information on compensation, mental health professional counseling, and improving diet. These actions can all give a boost for mesothelioma patient’s healing.
Any serious illness can impact mental health. For patients, caregivers, and their loved ones, going through cancer can be a devastating experience. Receiving a potentially fatal diagnosis, going through treatment protocols, and learning to live with limitations can cause depression in many patients. Some clinical tests can also have side effects. Managing mental health needs is a crucial part of the treatment process, and may even impact prognosis.