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Breast Cancer Awareness

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Focus on Your Mental Health

 In October, the power of pink is seen everywhere. Being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a time to recognize women around the globe that are actively fighting against breast cancer or have survived or passed from breast cancer. Those affected by this uniquely aggressive form of cancer are true warriors and know the hardship. What’s less discussed in terms of treatment for breast cancer is the approach to mental health, and the mental toll it can take on survivors, fighters, and their loved ones. To honor those who have fought or are fighting against breast cancer, here’s what you need to know about how breast cancer affects mental health, and how you can help your loved ones or take care of yourself as a survivor or fighter.


Breast Cancer Has a Profound Effect on Mental Health

 According to Psychology Today, about one in eight American women, or twelve percent of the population will get breast cancer. Around 40,000 people die from breast cancer every year. However, the effects of breast cancer go beyond the toll it takes on your body. A breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can produce feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Since the focus is on the physical body, a lot of the mental symptoms go unchecked or unnoticed. Stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness often affect those fighting and their loved ones. A cancer diagnosis can completely upend one’s life and the lives of those around them.

Those dealing with life threatening illnesses like cancer are confronted by the possibility of death. If or when they do beat cancer, they are haunted by the possibility of it coming back. It is a daunting experience that profoundly affects every aspect of one’s life. Given that cancer is a major psychological stressor, it’s no surprise that it has a profound effect on mental health. The process of surgeries, invasive and intensive treatments, physical sickness, weighing treatment options, and the reality of low numbers that limit the frequency of socialization can all take a toll.

According to Psychology Today, seek professional mental health help if you or a loved one is experiencing the following:

 Practice Self Care

 One of the best things you can do when fighting breast cancer is practice self-care. While treatment can be exhausting, the best course of action you can take is to provide yourself or a loved one with self-soothing activities that pamper and provide TLC.

Some activities for cancer patients or survivors include:

 Spend Time with Loved Ones

 Sometimes, time with loved ones can cure all. Whether it’s friends or family, talking to or spending time with a loved one can provide a healthy distraction. If the only thing you can do is have a loved one over for dinner, then that’s more than enough. Spending time with loved ones can alleviate the negative and lonely feelings that come with cancer. Your friends and family have your best interest.


Therapy is Your Friend

 If you feel like you or your loved one’s diagnosis is hindering your approach to life, therapy is your friend. A qualified therapist can help you work through your issues and help you find and make peace with your current life situation. There are even therapists who specialize in cancer that can help you take control of your life. It’s normal to need an extra shoulder to lean on and talk things out with when dealing with cancer. Cancer extends far beyond physical health, it can and does have an exhausting impact on one’s emotional, mental, and spiritual health. A therapist can help you work through depression, anxiety, and existential feelings to find relief and peace.

All in all, this October, embrace Breast Cancer Awareness Month by embracing the effect it can have on mental health. The more open the conversation is, the more likely people will be to seek out resources and support. Cancer can be lonely and dismaying, but it doesn’t have to be. Celebrate those who are fighting or who have fought against breast cancer by elevating their voices and supporting them every step of the way.


Getting Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with a recent diagnosis, do not hesitate to reach out to our team of compassionate and qualified psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication management, our highly qualified team specializes in anxiety and depression in children, adolescents, and adults. In-person appointments are available to patients in the Southlake (DFW) area. Online appointments are available to patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonio areas.

Dr. Michael Messina

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