Monday, February 27, 2012

PTSD and Cancer Survivors

I attend a support group. We talk a lot, just ask Julie our social worker. Sometimes we laugh when we think about parrots and Topotecan treatment and sometimes we cry. We also share information with each other. My friend and OC survivor,Pam, recently sent me a link to the Mayo Clinic blog Living with Cancer blog written by Sheryl Ness, RN about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cancer survivors. You might think of PTSD as an anxiety disorder that occurs only in combat situations or when your life is threatened in a natural disaster or a physical assault. You can learn more about PTSD on this PubMed Health page.

But studies have found PTSD may also occur in cancer patients. We experience a life-threatening medical diagnosis. We experience shock in hearing our diagnosis and as cancer survivors live longer our lives may receive repeated threats as we face recurrences. The NCI has a excellent section on its site dealing with PTSD.
"PTSD in cancer survivors may be expressed in these specific behaviors:
  • Reliving the cancer experience in nightmares or flashbacks and by continuously thinking about it.
  • Avoiding places, events, and people connected to the cancer experience.
  • Being continuously overexcited, fearful, irritable, and unable to sleep.
To be diagnosed as PTSD, these symptoms must last for at least one month and cause significant problems in the patient's personal relationships, employment, or other important areas of daily life. Patients who have these symptoms for less than one month often develop PTSD later. "

To read more please Click here for the NCI section.

If you have the feelings described above or you are a caregiver of a loved one who is expressing these behaviors please speak to your health care provider.

Every Day is a Blessing!


WhiteStone said...

I don't believe I have PTSD. However, one thing annoys me immensely...the moment I awaken from nap or sleep, the same three-word thought pops into my head. Every time. "I have cancer". I would like to awaken one morning, spend two hours over coffee, breakfast, email, etc., without once remembering that little fact. Sigh!

Alana Whiter said...

Thank you for the informational post. I have had PTSD ever since dealing with breast cancer treatment. Cancer is a just as traumatic experience as an assault or natural disaster. There is a lot of information out there for people suffering from PTSD. The website offers a lot of information about treating PTSD developed from any situation. I hope this is helpful for PTSD sufferers.