CBT: Managing the emotional situation of cancer patients

Patients diagnosed with cancer tend to feel emotional and overwhelmed with fears about how the illness would affect their lives and that of their families. There is a feeling of disbelief paired with other negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, helplessness, and so many uncertainties which affect their everyday routines and relationships with other people. Medical and psychological experts, together with loved ones, help these patients cope with the illness emotionally and physically to improve their quality of life.

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Most cancer patients undergo medical treatments like CT scans, MRIs, and chemo infusion. There are also some who undergo the treatment and visit psychotherapists to manage emotional stress. Because cancer patients feel anxious about their health, they usually have difficulty in sleeping and sometimes experience the pain and side effects of medical treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often associated with treatments that change the way patients feel, think, and deal with their physical and medical problems. CBT helps reduce the anxiety and improves sleeping conditions through different exercises that relax the mind and the body, such as deep breathing and meditation.

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Psychologists also provide counseling interventions where they help patients release their worries and emotional pain through a one-on-one conversation. This way, psychologists are able to determine and discover how their patients are coping with their situation. Experts are also exploring different ways on how to incorporate cognitive behavior therapy through mobile technology like developing an app with video lessons on breathing and relaxation techniques. More breakthroughs from this segment of behavioral wellness are expected to take place in the near future.

Paul Gabrinetti is an alumnus of the University of Southern California, where he received his doctorate in counseling psychology. Read more about his field here.