A diagnosis of terminal cancer can panic a patient and his or her loved ones. In such cases it is often difficult to control emotions. Finding ways to cope with mental and emotional health while suffering from terminal cancer can benefit a patient overall. Read on for tips and advice.
Mental and Emotional Health
There are hundreds of thousands of cancer diagnoses in the United States every year. Some of the most common types are breast cancer, bladder cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer. As with most cancers, the survival rate is often impacted by which stage a patient is in during initial diagnosis.
In general, the earlier the disease is detected, the better. The same is true for mesothelioma cancer, which is a cancer that originates in the organs surrounding the lungs, the stomach, heart or other nearby organs.
Once diagnosed with cancer, patients generally experience feelings of anxiety and distress. These feelings obviously damage a person’s mental health. However, recent studies have also shown that emotional distress and anxiety impact how a person responds to treatments. For instance, distress can heighten a person’s anxiety about receiving treatment and also increase anxiety in regards to pain tolerance.
Anxiety may also make a patient lose sleep, and it therefore increases the fatigue already present due to the illness. Anxiety, in some cases, will induce nausea and vomiting. In addition to making a person physically sicker, anxiety can also damage a patient’s quality of life. Living in constant fear or anxiety damages morale and results in a failure to enjoy activities that would otherwise be pleasing.
To improve the chances of recovery from cancer, the patient must treat the anxiety associated with a cancer diagnosis. One way to treat anxiety is with aromatherapy. Aromatherapy, which is derived from herbal medicine, involves the use of plant oils to improve a patient’s emotional and physical health.
During aromatherapy treatments, oils are used to massage the patient, and in some cases the oils are used in baths. Aromatherapy is often used to treat various illnesses, but most studies have focused on the impact treatments have on a patient’s psychological health. Practitioners use aromatherapy to induce relaxation in the patient, and people use the therapy as an anxiolytic agent, which means it helps reduce anxiety.
Another way to treat both the mental and physical effects of cancer is with acupuncture. Those who practice acupuncture believe that energy flows through the body in certain pathways. This energy flow affects people’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Thus, acupuncture is a holistic medicine used to treat a range of physical and mental symptoms.
To treat a patient, an acupuncture practitioner will insert thin, disposable needles onto acupoints (pressure points) on the patient’s body. The acupoints vary depending on which part of the body is being treated. After they are pressed to the skin, the needles are moved either up and down or rotated at various speeds and at different depths. In some cases, needles are charged with electricity or they may be heated.
In terms of mental health, acupuncture is used to relieve depression and improve a patient’s sleep quality. Better sleep often makes a patient feel well-rested and better prepared to cope with standard cancer treatments, such as drugs and chemotherapy.
Certain studies report that acupuncture can help relieve the vomiting and nausea associated with cancer therapies. In addition to this, acupuncture is also used to treat the fatigue associated with cancer.
Cancer patients must often undergo multiple types of treatments to improve their mental and emotional health. As stated above, aromatherapy and acupuncture can help relieve anxiety and improve sleep quality. However, in most cases these therapies must be combined with traditional therapies for cancer, such as chemo and radiation. The best way to design a cancer treatment plan is to consult an oncologist or other medical professional.
Written by Alice Bellview
This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.