Marriage Counseling And The Effects Of Breast Cancer On Mental Health
Marriage counseling is often beneficial to couples dealing with breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer and its impact. Mental health is seldom the first thing we associate with a cancer diagnosis, but they are intrinsically linked.
The Mental Health Journey Of Breast Cancer
Obviously most people have strong emotional responses to a diagnosis of breast cancer. They may feel fear, anger, grief, shock, disbelief, anxiety, or even numbness or relief that the cancer has been found.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by a diagnosis of breast cancer. The physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes associated with cancer, not to mention the treatments, can be painful and traumatic. There are no right or wrong feelings or order in which they should be felt.
Most of these feelings are distressing, however, and while they will ebb and flow and change over time, they typically continue to cause issues well after the initial shock of the diagnosis has worn off.
The Effect Of Mental Health On Breast Cancer
The stress of a breast cancer diagnosis may lead some women to engage in behaviors detrimental to their recovery like not getting adequate exercise or nutrition, withdrawing from family and friends, or attempting to self-soothe with alcohol or other substances. For some women it leads to serious depression, which may have a dramatic impact on their chances of survival.
In a study in which researchers examined the impact of psychologist-led small group sessions, the breast cancer patients who participated in the groups had a 45% lower risk of relapse and a 56% lower risk of dying from breast cancer. When they excluded patients who attended fewer than 20% of the sessions, the remaining participants’ risk of dying from breast cancer jumped to 68% lower.
This is all evidence of the mind body connection that makes it vital to have a support team in place through treatment and beyond. Your team consists of your doctors and nurses, your spouse, family and friends, and mental health professionals. The most effective approach to treating the mental health effects of breast cancer is multi-pronged, including support group sessions, marriage counseling, and individual therapy.
Where Marriage Counseling Comes In
As the patient goes through often lengthy and difficult treatment, additional problems tend to arise in their relationships as well. They often feel tired and sick all the time, which affects their work and relationships alike. Financial issues, one of the most common stressors in a marriage, are part and parcel of a cancer diagnosis for all but the most privileged among us. Marriage counseling is the best way to address these problems.
Perhaps most importantly, many people simply do not know how to support someone going through the turmoil of facing their own mortality. The person diagnosed with cancer is not the only one who experiences the diagnosis. It is as normal for the spouse to feel overwhelmed as it is for the patient. Marriage counseling can help spouses manage the challenge of offering both emotional and practical support while coping with their own feelings.
For more information about marriage counseling in Johnson County, KS, call Take Charge, Inc. at (913) 239-8255. To schedule an appointment, click here.
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