Mental stress in cancer often causes additional problems
Cancer diagnosis usually turns the life of those affected upside down. The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) reports that the diagnosis is extremely psychologically stressful for patients and their families. This is also reflected in the high rate of accompanying psychological diseases such as anxiety disorders and depression among cancer patients.
According to the DKFZ, around 30 percent of all cancer patients suffer from an accompanying mental illness. A cancer diagnosis is a shock for all those affected, and professional help is advisable when dealing with it. The cancer advice centers and other contact persons that the German Cancer Research Center has listed on its website can help here. However, psychological problems often appear during the course of therapy, for which it makes sense to consult a so-called psycho-oncologist.
Psychological problems in the course of therapy
The DKFZ reports that there are often further psychological impairments beyond the diagnosis and the first shock in the course of cancer. The possible triggers for this are diverse and can range from stressful interventions and therapies, through effects on family and work, to the uncertain prognosis regarding survival. The support of experienced specialists is a great help in these situations. The psycho-oncologists are specially trained experts who are familiar with the psychological and social consequences of cancer. "They support patients and their relatives and offer help when needed," the DKFZ said.
Outpatient cancer counseling centers offer help
According to the DKFZ, experienced psychologists, educators and social workers provide "first aid" for cancer patients and their families in the outpatient cancer counseling centers. In addition, many clinics offer special counseling services for those affected. In the extensive discussions, the questions, concerns and feelings that concern those affected and their relatives are given a lot of space. Advice on social law issues such as the financial and professional situation of those affected is also possible.
In an emergency, psychotherapy is recommended
The DKFZ reports that many cancer counseling centers also offer special programs such as information evenings, relaxation courses or discussion groups. Psychotherapy can also help with more pronounced and longer-lasting psychological stress. This is also based on regular discussions, which are usually conducted in a psychotherapeutic practice. Problems such as persistent fears, depression or other impairments of mental well-being are discussed. If depression is present, medication can also be useful, the DKFZ continues.
Assumption of costs by the health insurance companies
With regard to the assumption of costs for psycho-oncological counseling, the DKFZ explains that "it is generally free of charge for patients and relatives in acute and rehabilitation clinics and psychosocial cancer counseling centers". According to the DKFZ, the costs for outpatient psychotherapy can also be borne by the statutory health insurers if there is a corresponding burden and the therapist has a health insurance license. In principle, in addition to professional help, it is often helpful for those affected to meet people who share a similar fate, according to the DKFZ. There are numerous self-help organizations for this, where cancer patients can exchange ideas in group meetings or on the Internet. (fp)