The damaging effects of asbestos exposure don’t only impinge on a person’s physical health. Victims of asbestos-related illnesses suffer psychologically, as well. In this exclusive ongoing series, we’ll shed some light on that other side of terminal illness by examining the impact of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases on mental and emotional health-not just for patients but for their loved ones as well.
Some of the topics we’ll cover include: psychiatric conditions common to victims of mesothelioma cancer and other related conditions, how to share news of a terminal diagnosis with loved ones, coping with grief and loss, types and stages of the bereavement process, self-help techniques for managing mental health during treatment and more.
Mesothelioma and Mental Health-PART SIX
When you are undergoing pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma treatment, self-care and the employment of self-help methods are integral to maintaining emotional health. Beyond the psychological impact of receiving and accepting a mesothelioma diagnosis, the treatment process itself inflicts significant stress-both physically and mentally-than can have a very detrimental effect on your mental state.
Self-Care During Treatment and Beyond
Rates of depression and anxiety increase in cancer patients while undergoing treatment-whether surgery, radiation, chemo or some combination of the three-and the use of commonly prescribed medications can worsen those conditions. While seeking and obtaining support from loved ones can be tremendously helpful, most patients undergoing pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma treatment find that there are times when taking good care of ones self-both physically and emotionally-is crucial to maintaining their own health and sanity.
Even outside of the mesothelioma treatment realm, self-care practices play a key role in sustaining remission and even maintaining good general and mental health during times when the body is unaffected by illness. Examples of self-care important during treatment include:
- Eating regular, healthy and balanced meals/snacks
- Getting at last 6-8 hours of sleep nightly
- Being physically active, as much as possible, ideally through regular exercise
- Listening to your body and resting when necessary
- Scheduling in time for relaxation and recreation
- Making plans for social excursions or visits
- Being mindful of your emotional states and taking action towards adjustments, when necessary
Self-Help for Mental Health Effects of Mesothelioma
For those suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychological conditions while undergoing pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma treatment, professional interventions-which may include psychiatric medication, psychotherapy or grief counseling-can all be necessary tools and resources. However, many self-help and self-therapy techniques are also at your disposal.
Most of the mind-body interventions discussed in the preceding sections are excellent methods of self-help and self-care-including meditation, yoga, guided visualization and many others. Some additional self-help measures for coping with the emotional effects of illness and treatment are:
- Joining a support group, either locally or in an online/distance-based form (for example, the Lung Cancer Alliance’s Phone Buddy Program)
- Reading inspirational or guidance-based books (or e-books) about spirituality, positive thinking, coping with grief, etc.
- Using encouraging daily affirmations or mantras
- Journaling about your feelings or expressing yourself through another preferred artistic outlet (painting, playing music, etc.)
- Incorporating aromatherapy, color therapy, feng shui and other forms of alternative healing to make your surroundings as pleasant and calming as possible.