Psychological Stress and Cancer

When diagnosed with cancer, people may experience high levels of stress. Psychological stress is what people feel when they face mental, physical, or emotional pressure. Although it is normal for people living with cancer to experience some psychological stress, constant stress or high levels of it can develop into mental and/or physical health problems over time. These health problems can include digestive issues, fertility problems, a weakened immune system, anxiety, and depression.

This stress can be caused by routine events, like daily responsibilities, as well as unusual events, such as being diagnosed with cancer. Because of the uncertainty that often comes with being diagnosed with cancer, people can feel out of control of their life and become distressed. This consequently reduces their quality of life.

To deal with the stress of cancer, people learn effective coping strategies, such as stress management techniques. These strategies have been shown to lower levels of depression, anxiety and other symptoms related to cancer and its treatment. Emotional and social support are especially important in helping patients learn to manage their psychological stress. Some approaches can include social group support, meditation, relaxation, counseling, medication, and exercise.

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