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Heightened emotions like fear, worry and sadness are normal for people facing cancer – before, during and after treatment. But sometimes these feelings intensify and persist, affecting cancer survivors’ quality of life. This can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions. At Mercy, our behavioral health experts diagnose and treat the psychological effects of major illnesses like cancer.
Counseling (or talk therapy) may be recommended as part of a comprehensive cancer survivorship plan. During counseling sessions, a therapist helps cancer survivors learn ways to manage their emotional distress or other medical conditions like anxiety and depression. Counseling can be provided individually, for families or in a group of people with similar issues. Mercy Cancer Care teams can provide referrals for counseling services.
Support groups help cancer survivors validate their feelings and gain insight from other people whose lives have been affected by cancer. Mercy offers several support groups for cancer patients, survivors and their families.
While not a substitute for professional help, other ways to cope include relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, meditation and other stress-reduction methods. It’s also important to be socially engaged and make time for self-care. And avoid drugs and alcohol, which can contribute to or worsen emotional distress.