MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) – Jay Hendricks was joined by Kristi Edwards and Melanie Saiz of Centers for Children and Families to discuss Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The following comes from Centers:
What are some of the mental health effects associated with a breast cancer diagnosis?
The simple idea of breast cancer can cause anxiety and worry
o Many people find it difficult to sign up for a mammogram for fear of a bad outcome
o If a biopsy is ordered, anxiety can escalate quickly
An actual cancer diagnosis can involve a multitude of emotional stresses, including anxiety and depression
o Questions arise about how, if and when family members, including children, should be informed
Treatment side effects can affect a patient’s mood
o Insomnia, memory changes and mood swings can be the result of different treatment methods
o Changes in hormone levels can often affect emotions
o Body changes – hair loss, weight gain, etc. are often discouraging
Side effects may persist after treatment
o Many patients experience post-traumatic stress, which brings back the original emotions
o Sometimes there is a persistent fear of repetition
What do you recommend to people taking this trip?
· Accept your emotions.
· MENTAL HEALTH GOES HAND IN HAND WITH PHYSICAL HEALTH.
· Talk about your fears with a healthcare professional, licensed mental health professional, trusted friend, or other survivors.
Practice mindfulness or meditation
· Awareness in the moment often helps to reduce anxiety, stress and fear of repetition.
Take control of your health
· Ask your doctor for a written follow-up care plan, including which tests you will need in the future and how often you should have them.
Recognize key indicators
· Ask your doctor for a list of symptoms that you should report to him/her between check-ups, such as new lumps, bleeding or pain.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle – as much as possible and as prescribed
Enough exercise, sleep and healthy eating
Join a support group
· Getting to know other cancer survivors will help you feel less alone as you learn how they deal with the same concerns.
How can a mental health professional help women and families adapt?
Our primary goal is to help women cope with the physical, emotional and lifestyle changes associated with cancer
We also learn ways to deal with the effects of medical treatments that can be painful and traumatic
o Psychologists can teach women relaxation exercises, meditation, self-hypnosis, imagery or other skills that can effectively relieve nausea without the side effects of pharmaceutical approaches
For many women, this life-threatening crisis ultimately turns out to be an opportunity for life-enhancing personal growth
· Breast cancer patients themselves are not the only ones who can benefit from psychological treatment.
o Partners can also suffer.
o In one study, for example, men whose partners had been diagnosed with breast cancer were almost 40% more likely than other men to be hospitalized for major depression and other mood disorders
o Children, parents and friends involved in care can also benefit from psychological interventions.
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