The study, published in The Lancet Oncology shows that two years after diagnosis, cancer patients and their partners are more likely to be suffering from anxiety than healthy individuals. In fact, results suggest partners of cancer patients are more likely to suffer from anxiety than the patients themselves.
Lead author Alex Mitchell believes screening for anxiety for cancer patients has been overlooked due to emphasis on detecting distress and depression.
While cancer survivors are now living longer than ever, studies have yet to fully explore cancer’s impact on people’s mental health.
Over a quarter of cancer sufferers (27%) experience anxiety two years after diagnosis, while 11.6% experience depression. After 10 years, the risk of developing a mental health problem increase by 50%.
The results involve data from around half a million participants detailed in 27 publications.
Mitchell thinks more effort needs to be made to support patients discharged from hospital. Often the autonomy of treatment and check-up after hospital can leave people feeling abandoned and vulnerable – leading to feelings of anxiety.
“Further, the provision of rehabilitation and specialist emotional help is currently patchy. Efforts should be made to improve screening for anxiety and increase follow-up support for both survivors and their families”, he says.
Hypnotherapy can be used in some cases to treat anxiety. Linguistic and breathing techniques can be adopted to help calm the mind and shut out negative thoughts which spiral out of control and contribute to symptoms of stress, such as loss of sleep, emotional difficulties and headaches.
To find out more, please visit our Anxiety page.
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