Tips for Managing Mental Health After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is an atypical class of cancers generally caused by inhaling or swallowing airborne asbestos fibers. Malignant mesotheliomas are tumors that usually begin growing in the chest, abdomen, and heart. These tumors can take up to 50 years to develop depending on the severity of exposure to asbestos particles. Patients often miss mesothelioma symptoms due to the broad range of symptoms. Symptoms may include chest pain or lower back pain, shortness of breath, persistent cough, difficulty swallowing, hoarse voice, swelling of the face and arms, swollen belly, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, irregular heartbeat, and heart murmur. 

Because of these broad symptoms, the cancer is often identified in the later stages. Around 46 percent of patients are alive one year after their diagnosis. The severity of the cancer will determine the options for treatment. If caught in the earlier stages, the cancer can be treated with surgery, following rounds of chemotherapy or radiation. In more progressive stages, immunotherapy is suggested. 

Below, the Baltimore mesothelioma attorneys at Peter Angelos P.C. discuss the mental toll a mesothelioma diagnosis has on patients and how to manage your mental health after receiving this fatal diagnosis. 

Side Effects of Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is a difficult diagnosis to accept. Patients may feel a sense of guilt for exposing themselves to asbestos. Cancer takes a toll on not only your physical health but mental health as well. It can physically put you out of daily activities, and it may be hard to have a positive mindset when battling a diagnosis. PTSD can be common in mesothelioma patients, as the diagnosis may present memories from a traumatic event that exposed them to asbestos. It is important to take the proper steps in accepting your diagnosis. Learn the facts, prepare yourself for change and continue to make healthy choices. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

Symptoms of depression may include: lethargy, restlessness or agitation, feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless, frequent thoughts of death or suicide, suicide plans or attempts, loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities the time. 

In addition to depression and PTSD when receiving a diagnosis, treatments such as chemotherapy may cause a side effect called“chemo-brain.” The patient may experience trouble remembering, trouble concentrating, and not being able to complete tasks. Patients have described it as being “foggy.” Cognitive rehabilitation, exercise, and meditation may help in subsiding the symptoms of “chemo-brain.”

If these emotions, symptoms, or side effects are severe, it is in the patient’s best interest to seek professional help. Listed below are treatments suggested by medical oncologists for mesothelioma patients battling depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. 

Mental Health Treatments for Mesothelioma Patients

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been proven to help treat cancer patients with mental health issues. It is a form of psychotherapy where the patient will work with a psychotherapist or therapist for a scheduled period of time to overcome negative thoughts and other symptoms of depression. CBT uses a goal-oriented approach to help patients identify their negative thoughts, what stems from them, and alter these thoughts.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a specific type of CBT that doctors endorse to aid in redirecting mindfulness. This therapy uses the techniques of breathing exercises, discussion therapy and behavior modification. 

Support Groups

It is important to have a reliable support system when being diagnosed with a potentially terminal disease. There are many support groups available for people battling Mesothelioma. Talking with survivors provides a sanctuary for patients. They are able to share their personal experiences being diagnosed with mesothelioma and coping mechanisms. These kinds of support groups are available in person and over the phone. 

Exercise

Cancer patients may feel discouraged or limited in attempting physical activity, but it is important to continue to live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can be an outlet for managing your negative thoughts and reduce your risk of other health problems. 

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

A cancer diagnosis is already stressful enough, and the financial burden of medical bills can put a patient’s mental health at risk. The Baltimore mesothelioma attorneys at Peter Angelos P.C. encourage you to take legal action to receive compensation from companies or corporations that may be accountable for your diagnosis. Call us at (410)-649-2000 today or click here to contact us.