A diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma can alter your life in the blink of an eye. So much changes, including your mental health, rapidly. Acknowledging how a diagnosis affects you emotionally and psychologically can make it easier for you to utilize some strategies to manage your mental health.
Prioritize personal connections
Whether you or your loved one has mesothelioma, maintaining personal connections is crucial to a person’s psychological well-being. Without these interactions, people can be more likely to experience isolation, depression and loneliness, which can adversely affect their overall health.
Make it a priority to spend time with others. Set regular coffee dates or video chats; attend support groups in your community; speak with a counselor. If your loved one is the person with mesothelioma, be sure to check in on them frequently and keep them involved as much as is comfortable.
Identify and minimize harmful responses
There is no easy way to cope with a devastating diagnosis, but studies show that some responses can make life even more difficult.
These responses can fall into a few categories:
- Immature defenses, like acting out at caregivers
- Avoidant strategies, like denial or withdrawal
- Neurotic defenses, like intrusive thoughts
Some of these responses are unconscious or involuntary; nevertheless, identifying them can be crucial. Minimizing these can reduce the adverse impact they can have on you, such as post-traumatic symptoms. Often, mental health professionals can help you understand your responses and make adjustments to improve your mental health.
Surgery, medication, radiation and chemotherapy can all be treatments you undergo for the physical symptoms of mesothelioma. You may be focusing on these measures and doing what you can to make them as effective as possible.
However, getting treatment for your mental health issues is also vital, whether it includes medication, psychotherapy or support groups. Taking your mental health seriously and making an effort to protect and improve it can have a positive impact on your physical health.
Doing so can reduce stress and intrusive thoughts, increase feelings of hopefulness and promote resilience.
While mesothelioma is unquestionably a difficult diagnosis, protecting your mental health can make you better equipped to face the challenges ahead.