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  • Coco Zhu

Mindfull X Shield - Crash Course on Mesothelioma and How to Deal with the Mental Side of it

Mesothelioma, a rare and serious cancer affecting the lining (mesothelium) of various organs, is associated with asbestos exposure. The development of this cancer typically occurs 20-40 years after exposure. In the United States, approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are reported annually. If you have been exposed to asbestos, there is a risk of developing this cancer, with its onset often delayed for two to four decades. 

Why Covering this Topic?

“According to Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 35 to 40 percent of cancer patients experience a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, with higher percentages for patients with advanced cancer. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is often in an advanced stage at the time of diagnosis.” Among these statistics, about 25 percent of cancer patients develop depression during their stages of coping with cancer diagnosis. While depressive emotions are inevitable facing cases like such, long-term mental distress like such will eventually evolve into major depression, interfering with the patients’ daily functioning, not to mention impacting the quality of mesothelioma treatment. Although some might argue mesothelioma is a rare case, it is crucial to debrief and advocate for the significance of well-researched patient care (mentally and physically) in the healthcare industry. Remember, body and mind come hand in hand – oftentimes a mental health disorder concurs with physical illness and vice versa. As a result, we hope this guide can provide support when coping with diagnosis.

Mental Health Symptoms that may Concur with Mesothelioma

  • Depressive Spectrum Disorders: symptoms of depression may include constant sadness and hopelessness, as well as suicidal thoughts, mood swings, sleepiness, and more.

  • Anxiety and Stress Disorders: while occasional anxiety can be a temporary emotion, beware of long-term anxiousness, which might develop into anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorder describes the pervasive feeling of stress, as well as post-traumatic stress.

  • Adjustment Disorders: Mesothelioma diagnosis can cause individuals to feel insecure and vulnerable. Symptoms of adjustment disorder include dreadness, hopelessness, Non-stop thoughts about mesothelioma, and more.

  • Suicide: untreated mental distress developed with cancer diagnosis could lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. It is important to have a supportive cancer care team to get immediate help.

  • Somatic Symptoms: “the fear of developing symptoms can cause symptoms to occur.” Signs of somatic symptoms include decreased treatment adherence, reduced sense of well-being, and more.

  • Neurocognitive Disorders: AKA “chemo brain”, neurocognitive disorders refer to stages of confusion that could be caused by chemotherapy. 

  • Demoralization: this refers to the feeling of hopelessness generally caused by stages of failure. It is important to reach out for professional support or emotional support from friends if you are experiencing this type of emotion.

  • Sexual Dysfunction: effects of chemotherapy as well as mental distress developed through the drastic change in body image can cause negative mental status and sexual dysfunction.

How to Cope with Mental Health Conditions

Read on to get some advice on how to get effective help and deal with mental health distress that is associated with mesothelioma diagnosis.

  1. Get Support - either from a supportive cancer care team, support groups, or individual counseling, mental health support can be crucial to your future treatments.

  2. Mindfulness - learn to be in the moment!

  3. Stay Connected - you are not alone! Stay connected to re-discover the joys and meanings of life with support.

  4. Maintain Physical Well Being - help your body feel comfortable! Make sure to get sufficient sleep, nutrients, and exercise.

It's crucial to acknowledge the profound impact of mesothelioma on both body and mind. This crash course aims to highlight the significance of addressing mental health alongside physical well-being in the journey through this rare cancer. The stats on psychiatric disorders among cancer patients emphasize the need for a holistic healthcare approach. We hope this guide offers valuable insights and support for those navigating a mesothelioma diagnosis. Remember, seeking help, practicing mindfulness, staying connected, and taking care of your physical well-being can make a significant difference. You're not alone, and with the right support, there's hope for a more resilient and positive journey ahead.

For a more complete guide to Mesothelioma and Mental Health, please review the resources below generously provided by Lanier Law Firm, a leading advocate for patient care.

Writer: Coco Zhu




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