Mental health and cancer

Talk to your health care provider.

Mental health and cancer

For patients, caregivers, and their loved ones, going through cancer can be a devastating experience. Receiving a potentially fatal diagnosis, going through treatment protocols, and learning to live with limitations can cause depression in many patients, as can side effects from the treatment itself.

Others find that energy levels plummet and activities that were once a source of enjoyment are no longer possible. Patients frequently experience a process similar to grieving after diagnosis and during palliative or end-of-life care2.

Together we will beat cancer

There is evidence3 to support the existence of PTSD within both cancer survivors and cancer patients. A study looked into the prevalence of mental health conditions diagnosed in cancer patients of working age; the study identified that nearly 30 percent of the patients in the study were diagnosed with a condition prior to the end of the study.

Cancer treatments can also cause depression and anxiety. A side effect of chemotherapy known as chemo brain can cause fatigue, depression, mental fog, and other forms of cognitive impairment.

An article by the American Cancer Society shows the link between depression and chemo brain, and identifies that both should be considered. Depending on the prognosis the patient has received, it may not be possible to simply encourage a positive attitude, and it may not be possible to remind the patient that it will eventually get better.

This does not mean that treating cancer patients with mental health conditions is not valuable or necessary. This includes both anxiety and depression, as well as several different stress adjustment and coping conditions.

Psychotherapy with an experienced therapist or psychotherapist can be helpful, even to patients who have not yet been diagnosed with a condition. Each patient will require an assessment to determine which approach, if either, will work best for them.

Basic self-directed mindfulness exercises are a large portion of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Meditation may be an appropriate choice for some patients. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help to handle symptoms when they become overwhelming, although care must be taken to monitor the patient for interactions.

Generally, medications are chosen if depression or anxiety is protracted and does not dissipate after two to four weeks.

Mental health and cancer

For depression, Zoloft, Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Prozac are commonly used. Benzodiazepines may be used to treat short-term anxiety or sleep issues, but they are addictive. Particularly in the case of those who are acting in a caregiver role, proactive support to preserve mental health and cope with stress should be enacted.

Family members frequently go through the same grieving process as the cancer patient, especially if the cancer patient is terminal. It is important that caregivers and family members seek support as soon as a diagnosis of cancer is given.For cancer survivors, as for individuals without a history of cancer, physical health directly influences mental health status and overall quality of life.

Physical symptoms are more likely to be detected and treated by health care providers, as the mental health and social consequences of .

Mental health and cancer

Health care coverage that includes access to providers with expertise in the treatment of mental health conditions in those with cancer When considering our health, we cannot neglect our emotional and psychological well-being.

Mental Health and Cancer. Sometimes life can be a precarious balancing act. This balance can be disrupted in any number of ways – including the loss of a job or a divorce or a cancer diagnosis.

Traumas like this can lead to mental health challenges during times when balance is difficult to maintain. Cancer diagnosis and treatment may be accompanied by profound physical, emotional, social, occupational, and financial stressors, as well as associated increases in anxiety and depressive symptoms.

The first 1–3 years after treatment are a critical period during which to monitor the mental health of cancer survivors. By educating oncology providers and community mental health clinicians and using a patient-centered approach that bridges care.

This new program is beginning to show promising results.

Get Financial Compensation

Dr. These concerns lead to an increased rate of mental health problems in this population. According to an article from North Carolina Medical Journal, percent of cancer survivors reported poor mental health as compared to percent of adults without cancer.


“As a primary care physician, this statistic is a red flag for me,” says Overholser.

Mental Health Linked to Cancer Risk