Cancer can affect various aspects of life. However, for many years, it was only the physical aspects of cancer that received more attention. In recent times, there has been a growing awareness of the impact that cancer has on psychological aspects, social aspects, relationship aspects, and financial aspects of life. Of these, it is critical to address the psychological, social, and relationship aspects as they impact treatment outcomes and the overall quality of life.
This understanding has paved the way for specialized interventions that help reduce cancer’s impact on these aspects and enhance the well-being of patients during and after their cancer treatment.
Cancer and Mental Health: The Scenario in India
In India, the intersection of cancer and mental health presents a formidable challenge. Despite significant strides in the field of cancer care, the mental trauma experienced by patients and their families often remains unattended.
Shockingly, between 2001 and 2014, over 10,000 cancer patients in India resorted to suicide, unveiling a profound mental health crisis within this population. Every year, nearly 780,000 cancer patients succumb to death without insights into possible mental health conditions like depression, contributing to adverse treatment outcomes. The lack of access to support groups and psychological counseling exacerbates the problem, with a significant 94.4% of respondents reporting heightened anxiety levels due to this void.
Addressing mental health challenges among cancer patients is of paramount importance, and there should be strategies for systemic improvements that provide holistic support to those navigating this arduous journey.
Psycho-Oncology: For Healthy Coping Strategies Against Cancer
Psycho-oncology emerges as a pivotal field, offering healthy and valuable coping strategies for those battling cancer. Beyond conventional treatments, psycho-oncology delves into the psychological and emotional dimensions, providing patients with tools to navigate the complex emotional terrain. Integrating mental health support enhances the overall well-being of individuals, fostering resilience and a positive mindset during their cancer journey.
Benefits of Psycho-Oncology for Cancer Patients
A cancer diagnosis can be life-altering, sending shockwaves through your physical, mental, and emotional world. The fear, uncertainty, and overwhelming nature of the disease can take a toll on your well-being, making it difficult to cope with treatment and maintain a sense of normalcy. Fortunately, psycho-oncology offers a lifeline, providing a range of benefits that extend far beyond simply emotional support.
Enhanced Emotional Well-Being
Psycho-oncology helps patients navigate the complex emotions that arise after a cancer diagnosis. Psycho-oncologists, who have specialized training in managing the psychological aspects of cancer, provide tools and strategies to manage anxiety, depression, and fear, promoting emotional resilience and reducing the risk of developing mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Improved Quality of Life
By addressing the emotional burden of cancer, psycho-oncology counseling can significantly improve patients’ quality of life. Patients who receive counseling support experience better sleep, reduced fatigue, and a renewed sense of hope and optimism. Having a better quality of life allows them to focus on their treatment, maintain relationships, and engage in activities they enjoy.
Stronger Adherence to Treatment
The emotional turmoil associated with cancer can make it challenging for patients to adhere to treatment plans. Psycho-oncology counseling equips patients with coping mechanisms that help them overcome challenges and stay committed to their treatment, potentially leading to better outcomes.
Cancer can often strain communication between patients and their loved ones, as well as with healthcare providers. Receiving counseling support can help patients develop effective communication skills that will enable them to express their needs and concerns openly and honestly. This fosters stronger relationships and ensures everyone is on the same page throughout the treatment journey.
Increased Sense of Control
A cancer diagnosis can make patients feel helpless. In such cases, counseling empowers patients by providing them with tools and resources to actively manage their illnesses. This sense of control and agency can significantly boost their morale and well-being.
Embracing mental health in the context of cancer care is paramount in India’s evolving healthcare landscape. Psycho-oncology counseling emerges as a transformative approach, fostering emotional resilience, improving treatment adherence, and creating a supportive ecosystem for patients. Integrating these strategies is pivotal for comprehensive and compassionate cancer care.