Mental Health Awareness Month: Top Tip for Mesothelioma Patients

Health & Wellness

Observances such as Mental Health Awareness Month in May give us an opportunity to recognize the important relationship between our mental health and our physical well being. Living with mesothelioma can be challenging physically and emotionally. 

The top tip for mesothelioma patients this month is: Remember “it’s okay not to be okay.” And just because it’s normal to experience mental health symptoms with mesothelioma, it’s not necessary to simply endure them.

When you or a loved one is coping with a mesothelioma diagnosis, it’s very common to experience feelings of sadness, fear, anger, numbness and anxiety. Telling ourselves “it’s okay to not be okay,” also reminds us that it’s okay to ask for help. 

In the last 50 years, great strides have been made in mental health awareness, social acceptance and treatment. Mental health symptoms are very treatable with medication, counseling or both and can make a positive difference in quality of life.

How Can Mesothelioma Patients Manage Mental Health Symptoms?

If negative feelings are overwhelming or persistent, talk to your mesothelioma oncologist and ask for a referral to a counselor who specializes in cancer care. Sometimes, oncologists will prescribe medications to help reduce the symptoms of depression or anxiety, or to help manage sleep problems. Your oncologist may also refer you to a psychiatrist who can prescribe medications. 

Studies have shown that peer support is helpful when mesothelioma patients experience anxiety or depression. Each month our mesothelioma support group offers an opportunity for mesothelioma survivors and caregivers to connect and support each other. 

Support group participation isn’t a substitute for individualized mental health care. However, it can help people feel less alone to connect with other mesothelioma patients and caregivers experiencing similar feelings.  

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Mental Health Webinar Panelists Shared Tips and Experiences

Recently, we hosted a webinar on common mental health challenges mesothelioma patients experience. Survivors shared their honest experiences with emotional challenges following their diagnosis.

During the webinar, peritoneal mesothelioma survivor Tamron Little discussed experiencing  depression. She said it didn’t feel the way she would have expected it to. 

“You think from seeing movies and commercials that if you’re depressed, then you’re down in the dumps,” Tamron said. “But you can still be high functioning and still be depressed.” 

Anxiety and depression are not only common among cancer patients, but are the most commonly reported mental health issues. Among American adults,  35% report symptoms consistent with a depression and anxiety diagnosis. It’s important to remember treatment is very effective and more accessible than ever.

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