Effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are long-lasting and serious. It may affect the patient's ability to have a normal lifestyle and may interfere with personal relationships, education, and employment. Because avoiding places and persons associated with cancer is part of PTSD, the syndrome may prevent the patient from seeking medical treatment. It is important that cancer survivors receive information about the possible psychological effects of their cancer experience and early treatment of symptoms of PTSD. Therapies used to treat PTSD are those used for other trauma victims. Treatment may involve more than one type of therapy.
The crisis intervention method tries to lessen the symptoms and return the patient to a normal level of functioning. The therapist focuses on solving problems, teaching coping skills, and providing a supportive setting for the patient.
Some believe that effective communication between doctor and patient is a core clinical skill that should be taught as rigorously as other medical sciences are taught. Underlying this belief is a growing body of research and development of guidelines acknowledging that physicians need not be born with excellent communication skills but can learn as they practice various other aspects of medicine.
Clinicians specializing in cancer acknowledge that insufficient training...
Some patients are helped by methods that teach them to change their behaviors by changing their thinking patterns. Some of these methods include helping the patient understand symptoms, teaching coping and stress management skills (such as relaxation training), teaching the patient to reword upsetting thoughts, and helping the patient become less sensitive to upsetting triggers. Behavior therapy is used when the symptoms are avoidance of sexual activity and intimate situations.
Support groups may also help people who experience post-traumatic stress symptoms. In the group setting, patients can receive emotional support, meet others with similar experiences and symptoms, and learn coping and management skills.
For patients with severe symptoms, medications may be used. These include antidepressants, antianxiety medications, and when necessary, antipsychotic medications.
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This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute
September 04, 2014
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