interview with dr Hardeep Singh: “Psychological counseling is a crucial part of cancer therapy”

Being diagnosed with cancer can be the most challenging experience for most, even though most types of cancer are not fatal.

The disease not only affects the body, but also negatively affects emotional and mental health. This underscores the importance of counseling patients and their families to help them get through this difficult time.

dr Hardeep Singh, Department of Mental Health, Fortis Hospital Mohali, discusses therapy options to deal with the cancer crisis.

How cancer affects mental health

Just as early detection of cancer increases the chances of successful treatment, so does mental illness. It is estimated that a third of all cancer patients suffer from a shared mental illness, but only a small percentage report this.

After being diagnosed with cancer, almost every patient goes through stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is important that each phase is addressed appropriately. A patient suffering from depression or intense anxiety is less likely to follow treatment plans or even attend the check-up. They may also become less physically active or consume too much alcohol or smoke. There is evidence that positive mental health improves cancer treatment outcomes.

Emotional phases

Cancer patients struggle with depression, despair, anxiety, self-image, body image, and intimacy.

For early detection and resolution of the same, it is recommended to speak to a psychologist. While it’s natural for someone to feel despair, bouts of persistent sadness along with low energy levels, loss of interest, pessimistic ideas, trouble sleeping, and loss of libido are likely to cause depression and require medical intervention.

How does therapy help

Sometimes treatment can involve medication, although most patients benefit from individual counseling sessions. Some patients need a special therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy. Group therapy sessions are another way to address milder mental illnesses.

Motivation is the key

Cancer patients need to be motivated as a positive attitude helps fight the disease. Patients should remain physically active and walk daily, eat a balanced diet, socialize, and engage in conversation with friends and family. Talking helps reduce fears or stigma surrounding cancer.

dr Singh emphasized maintaining a positive attitude, saying, “If necessary, one should not be afraid to seek professional help. Maintain a regular routine and indulge in activities that make you happy. This can go a long way towards improving your health.”

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