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Mesothelioma Treatment: Help for the Psychological Symptoms

Mesothelioma Treatment Help: 

mesothelioma treatmentSuccessful mesothelioma treatment begins with recognizing the importance of treating psychological symptoms as well as the physical. Harvey Max Chochinov MD PhD has stated; "I think it's fair to say that every patient who is faced with a cancer diagnosis will have a profound emotional response or reaction to the news.  It is particularly distressing in the early diagnostic phases when people are dealing with all kinds of uncertainties". Mesothelioma treatment, like most cancer treatments, brings out various fears including fear of the unknown, fear of disfigurement, fear of no longer being able to carry on your previous roles, such as being a husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter etc. There are a mixture of feelings and psychological symptoms such as anger, sadness, fear, depression and anxiety involved in being a patient receiving mesothelioma treatment.  

What emotional responses are common for patients receiving mesothelioma treatment? 

As previously mentioned, some of the more common emotional responses include fear, anger, anxiety and depression. Even the most successful mesothelioma treatments usually evoke fears of death. You may feel anger at former employers for putting you in the predicament which may have contributed to your cancer diagnosis, or even anger at god for allowing it to happen.  Frequently, cancer patients ask "why me?". Depression is experienced by a high percentage of patients with malignancies. Most experts seem to estimate that as many as 10% to 25% of patients with malignant cancerous tumors suffer from major depression or some type of depressive illness. Anxiety symptoms such as nervousness, sleep disturbances, nausea and vomiting frequently also occur. 

What can be done to assist with the psychological symptoms experienced by patients receiving mesothelioma treatment? 

Traditional treatments for anxiety symptoms and depression are usually recommended for mesothelioma treatment patients. Antidepressant medications have been found to be very effective for cancer patients in general. Some of the newer antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft are also very effective for anxiety symptoms. Also, medications may be helpful to assist for the short-term when you have problems sleeping. 

Psychosocial interventions may include guided imagery and relaxation techniques which may help you to calm down and to slow down. Ventilating fears and anxieties, and developing and using your social support systems such as families, friends and church affiliations also seem to help cope with the distress. Successfully dealing with mesothelioma treatment usually requires developing a better sense of control over your experience. A sense of control may be gained through preparing questions for your doctor and having them answered as well as educating yourself about the disease process as much as you can. Knowledge is power.  

If you are undergoing mesothelioma treatment, just remember that it may be within your power to improve your prognosis by improving your mental or emotional state. Anxiety and depression are very treatable, and fears and anger do not always just "go away". 

By Paul Susic Ph.D Licensed Psychologist  (Health Psychology) 

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