October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a yearly campaign designed to increase breast cancer awareness. During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, activities and events are held across the United States to promote early breast cancer detection. Additionally, National Breast Cancer Awareness education and support services are available to teach men and women about the physical and mental health effects of breast cancer.
Breast cancer refers to cancer that develops in breast cells. Breast cancer affects both men and women; however, breast cancer is one of the most common causes of death among women in the United States, and research indicates that one out of every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her lifetime.
What Are the Short Term Mental Health Effects of Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment?
Cancer diagnosis and treatment sometimes leads to depression. The National Cancer Institute reports depression affects up to 25% of all cancer patients, and both male and female cancer patients are prone to the many mental health effects of depression, which can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of sadness and despair
A breast cancer diagnosis often causes depression. Research indicates that nearly 50% of breast cancer patients experience anxiety or depression. Meanwhile, breast cancer treatment is usually a long, arduous process filled with many ups and downs. With mental health support and a depression management strategy, a breast cancer patient can cope with depression and other complex emotions throughout diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
When it comes to managing depression, a breast cancer patient should first consult with a doctor. Collaborating with a doctor will enable a breast cancer patient to identify the root cause of depression symptoms and also develop a personalized depression management strategy. A doctor and breast cancer patient may choose to utilize one or more treatment options to manage depression symptoms, including:
- Medication: Antidepressant medications sometimes provide short-term anxiety and depression symptom relief.
- Counseling: One-on-one or group counseling sessions help breast cancer patients express their thoughts and emotions, and discover ways to manage anxiety and depression.
- Acupressure: In a recent study, researchers found that acupressure helped relieve anxiety and depression in women dealing with long-term fatigue after breast cancer treatment.
- Aromatherapy: With aromatherapy, essential oils are either inhaled or applied to the body to promote well-being.
- Journaling: By journaling, a breast cancer patient can keep a written account of emotions and events related to everyday experiences.
- Massage: Massage involves hands-on manipulation of the body’s soft tissues using the hands, fingertips, and fists to relieve tension and stress.
- Meditation: Meditation is a mindfulness practice that involves focusing on breathing, a specific phrase, or an object to help calm the mind and improve concentration.
- Yoga: Yoga consists of a set of physical, mental, and spiritual practices designed to increase strength and flexibility, as well as enhance emotional well-being.
In addition to the aforementioned treatments, there are several things that breast cancer patients can do on their own to help alleviate depression, such as:
- Attend Support Groups: Breast cancer support groups are available in cities and towns nationwide, and they enable breast cancer patients to connect with one another and work together to cope with anxiety and depression.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet: A diet that contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein helps boost the immune system and limit the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Exercise Regularly: Developing and maintaining an exercise regimen enables a breast cancer patient to reduce stress and also ease their anxiety and depression symptoms.
Breast cancer affects a patient’s physical and psychological well-being. With the right approach, a patient can treat his or her anxiety and depression symptoms and be well-equipped to deal with the mental health effects of surviving breast cancer.
What are the Long-Term Mental Health Effects for Breast Cancer Survivors?
Research indicates that there may be a correlation between breast cancer survivors and lasting mental health effects. According to data from more than 60 studies that examined the mental health of breast cancer survivors, researchers found that breast cancer survivors experienced various cognitive and sexual challenges for one year or more after treatment. Some breast cancer survivors also faced a higher risk of bone weakness and fractures, breathing difficulties, and other health problems. The studies showed that distress, anxiety, and depression are often ongoing problems for breast cancer survivors as well.
Ultimately, breast cancer education and psychosocial support play key roles in a breast cancer survivor’s ability to cope with the mental health effects of breast cancer recovery. Survivors who understand the signs and symptoms of breast cancer recurrence can adhere to doctors’ instructions during recovery to limit anxiety, depression, and other side effects. Furthermore, survivors can attend breast cancer support groups for physical and psychological support, and should discuss their recovery concerns with a mental health professional.
Treat the Mental Health Effects of Breast Cancer
Understanding the mental health effects of breast cancer is critical for breast cancer patients and survivors. Mental health services are readily available, and they help breast cancer patients and survivors manage anxiety and depression.
At Achieve TMS, we offer deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) therapy that can be used in conjunction with mental health services for breast cancer patients and survivors. Our dTMS therapy program uses magnetic pulses to stimulate neurons in the brain responsible for depression, and it helps provide long-term depression symptom relief. To learn more about dTMS therapy from Achieve TMS, please contact us online or call us at 877-909-8595.