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Breast Cancer: How Psychologists Help Mind and Body

October 27, 2012|Counseling & Psychotherapy

Every year, over 225,000 women, as well as men, will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

In addition to medical treatments, research has shown the psychological interventions and support can have a significant impact on survival and quality of life. And, psychological interventions can also help partners and children.

The APA website offers the following information – excerpts –

Why is it important to seek psychological help?

Feeling overwhelmed is a perfectly normal response to a breast cancer diagnosis.

But negative emotions can cause women to stop doing things that are good for them and start doing things that are bad for anyone but especially worrisome for those with a serious disease.

Women with breast cancer may start eating poorly, for instance, eating fewer meals and choosing foods of lower nutritional value. They may cut back on their exercise. They may have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. And they may withdraw from family and friends. At the same time, these women may use alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, or other drugs in an attempt to soothe themselves.

Depression can also decrease women’s survival, research shows. According to one analysis, mortality rates were as much as 26 times higher in patients with depressive symptoms and 39 times higher in patients who had been diagnosed with major depression.2

How can psychological treatment help women adjust?

Licensed psychologists and other mental health professionals with experience in breast cancer treatment can help a great deal. Their primary goal is to help women learn how to cope with the physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes associated with cancer as well as with medical treatments that can be painful and traumatic.

Can psychological treatment help the body, too?

Absolutely. Take the nausea and vomiting that often accompany chemotherapy, for example. For some women, these side effects can be severe enough to make them reject further treatment efforts. Psychologists can teach women relaxation exercises, meditation, self-hypnosis, imagery, or other skills that can effectively relieve nausea without the side effects of pharmaceutical approaches.

Read more at APA: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/breast-cancer.aspx

 

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