Talk therapy is part of good treatment.
- Cancer has psychological effects in addition to the physical aspects.
- Counseling and/or psychotherapy can help women deal with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
- Counselors generally take a conversational approach and help patients talk through their feelings.
- Many psychotherapists are medical doctors–psychiatrists–who can prescribe medication to help cancer patients get anxiety or depression under control.
A diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer affects more than physical health; there can be many psychological effects as well. "Absolutely, there are psychological health effects on patients with a new diagnosis of cancer, or even patients who have had months or years of treatment," says Dr. Daynelle Dedmond,
a gynecologic oncologist with Centura Health in Colorado Springs. "There's a definite mental adjustment to a new diagnosis, as well as to treatments like surgery that may be very altering for a woman who is having her ovaries and sometimes her uterus removed."
She continues, "Women often feel a sense of grief after surgery and it's important for them to have an outlet to discuss that grief. That discussion isn't always with me, the gynecologic oncologist, although I can initiate those conversations. Instead it's important that other specialists are involved, whether they are counselors or psychotherapists." Read More
Counselors and psychotherapists
have different training and use different techniques to help patients cope. "Patients often ask what the difference is between psychotherapy and counseling," says Dr. Dedmond. "Counseling can sometimes be more like a conversation between the patient and the counselor. But psychotherapy uses different modalities and techniques to help patients through their trauma and through their emotional concerns," A counselor generally uses a conversational approach and offers short-term therapy to help patients address specific issues or problems. Talking with a counselor can be very helpful for many women dealing with ovarian cancer, providing practical steps for dealing with their sense of grief or fears for the future. Psychotherapists, on the other hand, generally help patients look at broader issues in their life, and tackle longer, more deep-seated problems. Another difference between the two approaches has to do with medication. Counselors are generally not medical doctors, and cannot recommend or prescribe medication. But many psychotherapists are M.D.spsychiatristswho are trained in the use of psychopharmacological drugs to offer additional help to patients with psychological issues. These doctors may prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, sleep aids or even antipsychotic drugs as needed. "So when you're seeking counseling, you may need two different professionals to treat your psychological health with two different approaches: a counselor for conversational therapy as well as a medical doctor to prescribe medications," says Dr. Dedmond.
Whichever professional you decide is right for you, the most important thing to remember, says Dr. Dedmond, is that women should never be afraid to seek mental health care while being treated for ovarian cancer. Maintaining psychological health is a vital part of cancer treatment.
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