Your mental health colors everything else that happens in your life. However, life events can also cause shifts in your mental health.
When you feel sick, you may not be able to do the activities you enjoy. When you are ill for a long time or receive a serious diagnosis, like mesothelioma, your mental well-being can suffer. In some cases, the treatments you receive can even affect your mental health.
Mental health can have physical consequences
It is common for someone to feel down when they are sick, but there may be ways to minimize it. By taking steps to properly care for your mental health, you may even improve your cancer-related outcomes.
Studies have shown that cancer patients who have symptoms of depression may have worse outcomes than cancer patients who do not experience mental health issues. This is because those with depression can be less likely to maintain healthy habits, attend medical appointments, follow treatment plans or take prevention screens. However, those who sought help for their depression had longer survival times because they were more likely to follow through with the necessary medical care.
Several mood changes are possible
Although it is common for someone with cancer to feel sad or depressed, various other mood changes could occur. Cancer, as well as many of the treatments for cancer, release cytokines. Cytokines are chemical messengers that signal the body to increase or decrease inflammation.
When cytokines enter the brain, they can impact chemicals that are involved in many mental health conditions. Depression is one example, but some other examples include anxiety, fatigue, impaired memory and inability to concentrate.
How to improve your mental health
If you are experiencing mood changes or other mental health changes, it may be beneficial to discuss those changes with your cancer doctor. He or she can help you determine if those changes are side effects to your treatment or caused by something else. This can be the first step in successfully managing your mental health symptoms.
Other ways to improve your mental health while fighting cancer include:
- Staying physically active
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Talking with loved ones
- Joining a support group
- Meeting with a mental health expert
Your mental health does not need to take the back burner because of your cancer diagnosis. Many mental health conditions can be treated, and the appropriate treatment for mental health conditions can play an important part in your fight against cancer.