Depression complicates the fight against cancer! Advice for cancer patients

According to the data of the Turkish Statistical Institute; Around 163 thousand new cancer cases are diagnosed annually in Turkey, and about 20% of all deaths are due to cancer-related causes. Cancer patients and their relatives experience great emotional difficulties in this process. Stating that the first step in cancer treatment should be psychological support, Psychiatrist Dr. Hakan Karaş states that nearly half of cancer patients cannot cope with depression, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders and have problems in their treatment. Dr. Hakan Karaş gave information about the psychological difficulties experienced in the fight against cancer and the ways to cope with them.

Psychosocial Needs of Individuals with Cancer Are Ignored

Although cancer patients and their families experience emotional difficulties in the diagnosis and treatment processes and need psychosocial support, it is the result of facing cancer; Because of their fear, hopelessness and ‘urgency’ feelings, they may not be very aware of their psychosocial needs. It is difficult for the treatment team of cancer patients to notice the emotional difficulties and psychiatric disorders in the person.

Cancer patients should be treated for depression

For this reason, people with cancer try to fight this disease before their psychosocial needs, which directly affect their emotional world, communication with their families and treatment team, their quality of life and treatment processes, are not met.

40% of cancer patients have Depression and Anxiety Disorder

As well as the side effects of the disease and treatment; about half of cancer patients who have to cope with difficult emotions such as loss of control, isolation, fears about body image, stigma and death anxiety; They suffer from depression, anxiety disorders and some other psychiatric disorders.

Depression Impairs the Immune System and Affects the Treatment Course Negatively

People with depression have impaired immune systems. This situation is more critical in patients with cancer. Because the immune system plays an important role both in the course of the disease and in the treatment. According to research conducted in recent years; shows that the course of the disease and the treatment are adversely affected when depression and anxiety disorders are accompanied in cancer patients.

Another reason why the course of the disease is negatively affected is the deterioration of treatment compliance in patients with depression and other psychiatric diseases. The communication of individuals with depression and anxiety disorder with the treatment team, their belief in treatment and treatment motivation are adversely affected. In addition, communication problems prevent them from struggling with the disease in harmony with their families who are trying to support them.

Depression is also seen in the families of individuals with cancer

The diagnosis of cancer brings along various losses and concerns in many people due to the physical effects of the disease, pain and treatment side effects. In addition, it means facing death in various forms for many people, depending on the stage of the disease. In addition to patients, relatives of individuals with cancer also face various losses and anxieties. Relatives of patients are now in the position of ‘caregivers’ towards their patients, to whom they receive and receive mutual trust and support.

The first step in the fight against cancer should be psychological support!

It is not easy for the relatives of patients to cope with the responsibilities brought by this new role and to face the possibility of losing a loved one with cancer. Therefore, these emotional, mental and physical strains can lead to depression and anxiety disorders in the relatives of cancer patients.

The Psychiatrist Should Be Part of the Treatment Team

Individuals diagnosed with cancer, in this difficult period of their lives, try to cope with mental and emotional difficulties, often reaching psychiatric disorders, as well as physical strains. Since the lack of psychosocial support negatively affects the quality of life and treatment of these patients, the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes that psychosocial support should be an important part of cancer treatment.

Psychiatrists work as part of the treatment in cancer centers in European countries, the USA, Canada and many developed countries. In addition to psychiatrists; psychologists and social workers are also important components of the psychosocial support team. In our country, there is a need for oncology units to cooperate more with psychiatrists and for cancer patients to seek psychiatric support more often with their families in order to overcome this deficiency.

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