It’s Not all Physical: Cancer and its Psychological Effects

Cancer can have a significant psychological impact, especially during the treatment process; the effects of cancer are not simply physical. At Hunter Valley Oncology, we are determined to provide support in all areas of cancer treatment to increase the quality of life of our patients. Today we want to discuss the psychological impacts of cancer for your awareness and provide advice on managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges faced by those experiencing cancer.

A Brief Summary: The Psychological Impact of Cancer

The diagnosis and treatment of cancer can be overwhelming and often has a significant effect on a patient’s mental health. Psychologically, people may be affected by increased feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and fear. These conditions and emotions are often exacerbated by the uncertainty of the disease, the side effects of treatment, and the potential for recurrence.

Anxiety is a common response to cancer diagnosis. Patients may worry about treatment outcomes, their physical health, and the impact of their having the disease on their loved ones. This anxiety can lead to physical symptoms, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, and difficulty sleeping.

Cancer patients also experience depression at greater frequencies. Depression can manifest as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Facing this psychological impact can be challenging, as it can reduce one’s ability to effectively engage in holistic care during the treatment process.

Managing Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Challenges

Managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges associated with cancer can be overwhelming. Your healthcare team, including Hunter Valley Oncology, are here to assist you on your journey to wellness. Today, we want to address some steps that can be taken to improve your mental health in the midst of cancer treatment.

Seek Support

Having a support network is essential during cancer treatment. Talk to friends, family, and healthcare professionals about how you are feeling. This empathetic listening ear can provide emotional comfort and guidance when navigating the challenges of cancer.

Practice Self-Care

While we do not wish to suggest that practicing self-care will magically make your struggles disappear, taking care of oneself physically and emotionally is important in managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as exercise, meditation, and hobbies, can help improve mental well-being.

Maintain Social Connections

Staying connected with family and friends is important in maintaining emotional support during cancer treatment. Social isolation can further feelings of depression and anxiety. When you can, think about having dinner with your friends, attending a trivia night, or watching a show with someone you care about. Maintaining the ‘normal’ aspects of social life is often encouraging.

Stay Informed

Learning about cancer, treatment options and cancer support networks can help reduce anxiety and uncertainty, and help patients regain a sense of control.

Therapy and Psychological Support

Therapy – such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychological treatment – can be helpful in managing anxiety and depression associated with cancer. Therapy can provide a safe space for patients to process their emotions and learn coping strategies.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

There is great benefit in holistic care. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly within the recommendations of your healthcare team.

At Hunter Valley Oncology, we know that cancer can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues associated with cancer can be difficult, but there are evidence-based steps to improve your quality of life. We call you to seek help and support whenever you need it and remember that you are not alone in the dynamic process of cancer treatment.