- The main problem with all types of cancer is that they not only affect the physical part but also the emotional part.
- Although each person develops different discomfort, there are some aspects that are repeated in the majority.
- Managing the stress and depression caused by cancer requires the support of a mental health professional.
Tumors are responsible for 9.6 million deaths each year and the trend continues to rise. At the same time, there are various cancer myths that many people take for granted. Therefore, always going to official sources or doctors is the best way to stay informed and avoid falling into misinformation.
The experience with the disease is different in each patient and all emotions are valid and important, regardless of their intensity. In this regard, Dr. Shawna Ehlers, psychologist and expert in psycho-oncology at Mayo Clinichelps patients cope with the emotional burden of a cancer diagnosis.
The importance of mental health
In this sense, one of the most frequent myths about the cancer is stress related they have or if they will have to suffer from depression throughout their cancer treatment.
“If I could say just one thing to all cancer patients, it would be that stress does not cause cancer. It’s a common myth that causes a lot of unnecessary anguish and guilt. People believe that if only she hadn’t taken that stressful job or ended that stressful marriage, she wouldn’t have cancer now. One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is telling them that this is absolutely false: stress did not cause their cancer and there is no scientific evidence to prove it either.
The stress wreaks havoc in many ways. The body’s natural response serves to protect us from any perceived threat by staying on when it shouldn’t. This can happen for many reasons, including trauma and other stressors. Prolonged activation of the stress response system and overexposure to stress hormones alter almost all bodily processes, but do not cause cancer.
“Once cancer has been diagnosed, stress has been associated with disease progression. That is why it is really important to control it. It doesn’t mean avoiding stress at all costs, but making sure there is a rest period every day for the physiology to calm down.”
For controlling stressbalance and acceptance are also essential, in addition to working with a mental health professional.
The specialist adds that it is important to separate the controllable factors from the uncontrollable ones. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, that person may feel shocked, lost, or overwhelmed, as if their entire life is out of control. However, after having time to think, she realizes that there are things that he can control.
The other problem of interest that should not be neglected
Another myth is that you have to endure depression. It is normal to feel stress, anxiety or sadness and they are feelings that usually dissipate. However, when that doesn’t happen, it’s important to talk to a health care provider and seek support. Depression is different for everyone and it’s not always easy to recognize. But the sooner it is treated, the sooner patients can focus their energy on recovery and healing.
It is healthy to talk to others about cancer diagnosisalthough it is not always easy. Some people may rely on their family and friends, while others may try to deal with it by avoiding the subject, which can have the opposite effect and take away the energy they can put into healing.
“Something we work on with patients is refraining from avoiding the situation and actually talking about the entire cancer experience. That way of processing emotions helps people manage stress and feel less anxiety and depression in the long run.”
It is also healthy to set limits. Talking about cancer with a mental health professional, family and close friends helps, but answering questions from people you know or strangers can be stressful. He adds that when the conversation gets awkward, redirect it and refocus on the other person.