Dealing with the emotional and psychological effects of cancer

It is important that the patient and their friends and family understand the emotional fallout from a cancer diagnosis. (Rawpixel pic)

Most people are very well aware of the physical struggle of cancer treatment, but few realise the emotional and psychological effects of cancer, not only on the patient but the patient’s family members as well.

There are many ways to alleviate emotional stress, including talk therapy, but first one must know what the psychological effects are. Only then can one learn how to deal with them.

Shock

Shock is usually the first reaction to a cancer diagnosis. The person may not understand some of the things they are being told by the doctor and asking them to repeat information is entirely normal.

Some people find that talking with friends and family helps them to deal with the diagnosis while others just want to be left alone.

How someone deals with the shock is up to them, but the diagnosis and one’s feelings need to be discussed at some point, either with friends and family or a professional.

Stress

The weeks after the diagnosis can be extremely stressful for the patient and their loved ones. There is going to be a lot no one really understands and much to do to get ready for treatment.

The patient must make sure their health team keeps them informed of everything every step of the way.

Friends and family can be a huge help at this time by taking some of the weight of financial and other responsibilities off one’s shoulders.

There are many stress relievers as well, so look for the ones that work best.

Sadness, grief and depression are common emotions after receiving a cancer diagnosis. (Rawpixel pic)

Sadness and depression

Sadness, grief and depression are common emotions after receiving a cancer diagnosis. How they are dealt with is key.

The patient must try not to shut themselves off from loved ones as they can be the greatest help during this trying time.

If the depression and sadness are not getting better or are becoming overwhelming, there are support groups and therapists who can help.

Never, ever try to battle these emotions alone.

There is help out there, one just has to ask for it and know where to look. Some of the signs of depression to look out for are listed here.

  • Taking no pleasure or having no interest in activities that are usually enjoyed.
  • Being down most of the time.
  • Inability to experience joy at all.
  • Inability to concentrate on anything.
  • Constant thoughts of death and suicide.
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits.

These are a few of the more obvious symptoms of severe depression and if the patient experiences them on a deep level, they need to see someone. Help is out there.

Fear

Fear is another common emotion after a cancer diagnosis. The future is uncertain and murky, and one is not sure which way to turn.

Fear of dying, the treatment itself and fear for the family and loved ones can be overwhelming.

The patient must try to maintain a positive attitude and if they are overwhelmed by fear, they should not hesitate to ask for help from family or professionals.

These are just a few of the emotional and psychological effects that a cancer diagnosis can have on someone. All of these are normal, but they must be dealt with in order to cope.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg and host of The DRH Show. You can connect with him on Twitter @drelojo_howell