Mental Health Issues Facing Patients in Recovery from Cancer

Cancer takes too many lives in the US. While cancer is equally likely to affect people with and without mental illness, cancer-related deaths are higher for people with mental illness. This is not just due to physical factors, but also psychological ones. Cancer can cause fear of further disease recurrence, changes to one’s identity, and loss of support from others.

There is a long-term relationship between psychological disorders and cancer. Friends, family, and providers play a vital role in the healing process. Someone with mental illness who also has cancer is at risk for worse outcomes. Providing support during cancer treatment can be beneficial to the patient’s psyche and overall health.


What are the statistics regarding mental health and a cancer diagnosis?

Cancer can be debilitating and affect other mental health conditions that you may be experiencing.  Working on your mental health is always important, but especially for those experiencing an extreme chronic illness like cancer.  Here are just some of the statistics:

  • One in three people with cancer experience mental or emotional distress. It is most common in breast cancer (42%) and head and neck cancer (41%) patients
  • Up to 25% of cancer survivors experience symptoms of depression and up to 45% experience anxiety.
  • Many cancer survivors also experience symptoms meeting the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Cancer survivors are twice as likely to die by suicide than the general population.


How does cancer affect other mental health conditions?

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. How do you manage the psychological effects of such a diagnosis? Especially when you may be suffering from other mental health conditions or symptoms, a cancer diagnosis can be a very scary time. It’s important for them to manage their stress and cope with their feelings.

Working with a Cancer therapist at Silver Lake Psychology can help to deal with the weight of your diagnosis and begin the path to healing. Your diagnosis is just part of your larger health strategy and it’s important to focus on the bigger picture.  A cancer therapist is specialized to help you focus on healing with a number of different strategies.  Depending on your mental health needs, your therapist may use a combination of strategies including:


Why having a therapist is recommended after receiving a cancer diagnosis and into recovery

Mental health professionals are an invaluable part of the team for cancer patients. Mental health professionals can help patients manage stress in several ways. The most effective way to do this is through a supportive environment in which the patient and therapist work together to come up with a plan that helps the patient deal with their grief, fear, and other emotions.

They can help patients identify positive coping mechanisms to deal with stress and mitigate risky behaviors like smoking or substance abuse. They also encourage their patients to maintain an active lifestyle, which can lead to a better quality of life and enhanced survivorship after treatment.  

In addition to habit building, stress management, and a focus on healing, their focus is on survivorship.  Studies have shown that an increase in the severity of depression symptoms is associated with a shorter survival rate.  This makes symptom management incredibly important for those with cancer.

Even into remission and recovery, a cancer therapist can help to focus on the new experiences and outlook, continuing healthy habits, and focusing on your future.  Many cancer patients can experience PTSD and may have new mental health conditions or symptoms that they may have to work through.  A cancer therapist is uniquely qualified to help you reintegrate into your day to day life easier.


Other benefits of working with a cancer therapist at Silver Lake Psychology

Patients need support from others who know what they’re going through. Cancer support groups provide a place for patients to share their stories, learn how others are coping, and feel supported. 

If the diagnosis is cancer, patients may need information about the disease, its treatment, side effects, and prognosis.  This process can be exhausting, expensive, and take months in some cases.  Coordinating your care team can be a full time job in itself.  Learning strategies from a cancer therapist from Silver Lake Psychology can be a great option to build coping mechanisms, find your voice, and help improve your care.


Why Silver Lake Psychology?

Silver Lake Psychology is a dynamic, industry leading therapy group that is helping those with cancer.  We have cancer specialists that are trained to work with those actively fighting cancer and those in remissions/recovery.  With co specialties ranging the gamut, we have enough therapists available to have a choice!  We custom match you with your ideal therapist by using our Patent-Pending Mindful Matching technology.  This ensures that you have the best chance of success due to a good relationship between you and your therapist.  To learn more and start the process, contact one of our Matching Experts today!

Reference 1,2,3  National Cancer Society