After you begin mesothelioma treatment, many things in your life will change. You will have less energy and you may be in pain at times. Your family might be stressed and anxious. It’s completely normal to experience emotional stress during this time.
You don’t have to face this stress alone. Mesothelioma treatment for emotional stress is just as important as treating your physical ailments.
Malignant mesothelioma, to date, is usually an incurable cancer, but there is a great variation in survival times. Many factors influence long-term survival, including physical health before diagnosis, age, and how advanced the cancer is when you start mesothelioma treatment. What most long-term survivors probably have in common is a positive attitude and a good emotional support network. Help in dealing with emotional stress can improve your quality of life and may even add to your survival time.
Mesothelioma Treatment and Emotional Distress
Mesothelioma treatment itself can be a cause of different types of emotional distress. Before a major surgery, such as pleurectomy/decortication for pleural mesothelioma or debulking surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma, it’s normal to feel nervous or scared. Even a smaller procedure such as biopsy or fluid removal involves some physical pain and a short recovery period. Most people would feel anxious in anticipation of mesothelioma surgery.
Mesothelioma chemotherapy comes with a reputation for unpleasant side effects. When you have to cope with nausea and weakness, when you aren’t able to do the things you normally like to do, it’s easy to slide into depression.
You’ll have to make adjustments during mesothelioma treatment. If you have a hard time coping with change, you may find these new circumstances difficult.
But there’s another way to look at the physical and emotional challenges that come with mesothelioma treatment. Sometimes a hard shove that gets us out of our comfort zone also allows us to discover something new.
Perhaps you will find a new sweetness in your relationships with your loved ones. Maybe you will learn that you are braver than you ever knew. You might find that there is a gift in being willing to ask for help. Perhaps standing face to face with a serious illness will give you the courage to try something you’ve always wanted to do.
The emotional stress of mesothelioma treatment can be a challenge. But challenges can also be opportunities. It’s all about your attitude. If you’re willing to reach out for mesothelioma resources to help you cope with the stress, you’ll find there are communities of support to help you through.
Mesothelioma Treatment for Depression
It’s normal to go through feelings of sadness and grief after a mesothelioma diagnosis. If those feelings persist and get worse, your emotional stress may have led to depression.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- A loss of hope; feeling that you have nothing to look forward to in life
- Loss of appetite. This may be hard to distinguish from side effects of mesothelioma treatment. If you don’t feel like eating (or if you start eating too much) after you finish chemotherapy, this may be a sign of depression
- Loss of physical vitality. Again, this may be hard to separate from the fatigue that can be caused by mesothelioma treatment
- Feelings of guilt or the sense that you are worthless
- Feeling unusually agitated, irritable, or angry
The side effects of mesothelioma treatment can get you down. You may feel like you want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head. Depression, on top of the stress of mesothelioma treatment, can feel overwhelming.
Depression can range from mild to severe. If your symptoms are moderate, you may assume they will just go away. It can be tempting to ignore them and pretend that everything is okay. You will bounce back more quickly, however, if you take your depression symptoms as seriously as your mesothelioma symptoms and seek treatment.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to stay connected and try not to isolate. You may not be able to do all the activities you used to do, but you can invite friends and family to come visit you. Find a mesothelioma patient’s support group in your area. Ask if your mesothelioma treatment center offers counseling, group therapy, or other mesothelioma treatment for emotional distress.
There is no shame in experiencing depression. More that 15 percent of Americans will feel depressed at some point in their lives. Researchers estimate that as many as 50 percent of cancer patients experience depression. You don’t have to suffer alone.
Mesothelioma Treatment for Anxiety
Anxiety is almost a given after a mesothelioma diagnosis. It’s understandable if you feel more than usually nervous and worried as you begin mesothelioma treatment.
Like depression, anxiety symptoms can range from mild to severe. If anxiety starts to take over your life, keeping you from activities you might otherwise enjoy, it’s time to get help for your emotional stress. Remember, there is mesothelioma treatment for your mind as well as your body.
If you are struggling with anxiety, your symptoms might include:
- Panic or feeling of impending doom
- Fast heartbeat
- Sweatiness or trembling all over
- Weakness or excessive fatigue
- Digestive upset
Of course, some of these symptoms might also be caused by mesothelioma treatment. It may be hard to know which is which until you take steps to manage and treat your anxiety.
We like to think of our minds as separate from our bodies, but the truth is that your mind and your body are very connected. You may be surprised how much better you feel, just by getting treatment for your anxiety.
Some people benefit from talk therapy. You may want to also talk with your doctor about medication for anxiety or other types of emotional stress.
You deserve to experience happiness and laughter, even during a possibly terminal illness. Why not make the most of life during your mesothelioma treatment?
A Word to Mesothelioma Caregivers
If someone you love is struggling with emotional stress during mesothelioma treatment, you can help.
Start by educating yourself. Learn to spot the warning signs of stress. You may notice that your loved one is sliding into depression before he or she does. This will allow you to provide support before the symptoms become severe.
If the mesothelioma patient in your life wants to talk about his emotional stress, try to be a good listener. The conversation may be uncomfortable for you, but it can be very comforting for your loved one to simply know that someone is listening.
Find out about resources in your area. Mesothelioma treatment can include assistance with emotional stress. Offer to drive your loved one to a support group or to therapy.
Finally, be sure and take good care of yourself. You are probably experiencing emotional stress too, particularly if you are a primary caregiver. Make sure you take breaks, get help, and get the support you need to stay positive and energetic. You can only help your loved one if you are taking care of your own needs, too.