As we reach the end of May, which marks Mental Health Awareness Month, it feels as appropriate a time as any to discuss the benefits of seeing a therapist.
Even if you have a great support system of family and friends who are always happy to lend an ear, you may want to consider finding a mental health professional to further help you through this time. This applies whether you're currently going through treatment, are no evidence of disease (NED), have a parent or sibling diagnosed, or are a caregiver for a loved one with breast cancer.
Mental health professionals such as social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists are trained to help their people work through the spectrum of emotions you may be feeling- from the sadness and grief of a recent diagnosis, to the elation of your doctor declaring you cancer free, to the stress and fear of whether the cancer might recur or progress.
Many mental health professionals specialize in working with patients with specific experiences, so finding a therapist specializing in the cancer arena may be especially helpful. Support groups led by one of these mental health professionals can be another way to access therapy while also benefiting from connecting with other breast cancer survivors.
As always, let us know your thoughts and how you’d like to contribute to the discussion.
Even survivors of cancer who have no mental health symptoms are urged to reach out to a counselor who specializes in post-cancer care. Research shows that fewer than a third of cancer survivors talk about mental health issues with their doctors, even though they are at high risk for anxiety and depression. Talking to a counselor early on can help keep issues from getting serious. Read More.
Although serious depression is not seen in the majority of breast cancer patients and survivors, many will experience treatment-related distress, fear of recurrence, changes in body image, and sexuality. This paper discusses the importance of identifying the psychological and social concerns of breast cancer patients in the medical setting, and assisting them in obtaining appropriate psychosocial services. Read More.
Partners can also be suffering. In one study, for example, men whose partners were diagnosed with breast cancer were nearly 40% more likely than other men to be hospitalized for severe depression and other mood disorders.
Psychologists can help spouses manage the challenge of offering both emotional and practical support while dealing with their own feelings. Read More.
There are several ways to seek mental health help. Choosing what is most effective or helpful can be based on personal preference, cost, and what is available in your community.
This article breaks down how social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists each use different approaches to help their patients with their mental health challenges, and may differ in cost and insurance coverage eligibility. Read More.