Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doesn’t only affect veterans. This condition is associated with events which leave an individual traumatized, therefore any kind of acute stress could trigger it. A recent study discovered a new category of people who have to confront with the disorder, namely those who get diagnosed with cancer.
Cancer patients can develop PTSD as well
To establish the connection between PTSD and cancer, a team of researchers from the National University of Malaysia selected 469 people suffering from the debilitating disease. Then, the researchers kept a close eye on these participants, and reassessed their condition on three occasions after the onset of the study.
The first check-up took place one month after the diagnosis. Then, the participants were assessed again after six months, and the last date of the check-up was four years later. The results showed that about 22 percent of these people were likely to have developed PTSD during the first six months after being diagnosed with cancer.
After four years, the rates were lower, but not completely inexistent. One third of those patients who developed PTSD still had the disorder, and some of them felt even worse. The diagnose and the treatments they needed to undergo caused real trauma, leading to unwanted psychological effects.
Cancer patients should receive more psychological support
These results highlight the need to take better care of cancer patients both psychologically, not only physically. Therefore, soon after they receive the diagnose, these people need to undergo thorough psychiatric evaluations. This way, doctors can tell if they need some additional support and therapy to keep them going.
“Many cancer patients believe they need to adopt a ‘warrior mentality’, and remain positive and optimistic from diagnosis through treatment to stand a better chance of beating their cancer,” explains lead author Caryn Mei Hsien Chan.
These people might think others will see them as weak if they seek therapy and counseling after the diagnosis. This is why we should offer our support, and show these people they have nothing to be ashamed of. The study has been published in the journal Cancer.
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