The psychological toll that an intensive care treatment can have on a child is quite high and this topic has been a concept of study for a long time now. When placed along with children of the same group, it has been shown that children cope relatively well but once they are out of the hospital, or out of their support group they tend to experience anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress occur quite more frequently than the full spectrum of post-traumatic stress disorder, and this end affects almost 75% of the youth during their course of treatment or after. There is some substantial variability as some studies have suggested that the cause of severe post-traumatic stress might be due to the perceived life threat or clinically-related factors. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress include flashbacks, nightmares, and the desire to cut all human interaction completely. They tend to stay away from situations, places, or things associated with their hospital stay, have difficulty facing their emotions, feel helpless and distant, and cut off from others. They are highly anxious and are easily startled. These symptoms might be experienced by the child who has undergone treatment or their parents and siblings.
Though the psychological effects that are caused by cancer have been a concept of study since the earlier times, the stress and traumatic experiences that the child might undergo during treatment have been vastly ignored. The compelling evidence that the trauma caused due to childhood cancer and cancer treatments have been vastly ignored despite the fact that this trauma can have a great impact on the developing nervous system. Any changes that might occur in the neural system will have an impact throughout the patient’s life and increase the risk of the child developing physical and mental problems. The early manifestation of childhood trauma can be realized as the child being potentially vulnerable to physical and mental health problems including second cancers, depression, suicidality, and heart disease. This is the reason why most deaths occur around the globe and the cause of major disabilities too.
As per the research of neuroscience, there are certain regions of the brain that are responsible for certain functions and the interference with its effective functioning can cause the patient o to be more susceptible to stress, and trauma during childhood. Results of another research have shown that certain regions in the brain such as the hippocampus responsible for learning and memory, the amygdala responsible for emotion-related functioning, and the prefrontal cortex responsible for higher-order executive functions are altered when the child is exposed to trauma during their childhood. Due to the brain continuing to develop, the areas responsible for such functioning also develop and thus make the child particularly sensitive to certain types of insults such as trauma, stress, or chemotherapy. That is the reason why the ‘double hit’ of cancer must be given quite a thought before exposing the child to such stressful and potentially traumatic experiences during the developing stages of the brain.
It must be understood that childhood cancer is not only just a physical condition but also a mental one. While the child is in the treatment process, it is important to take into account the stressful experiences that the family of the child and their loved ones might o=undergo too. But, due to the strained schedule of the psychological support team, social workers, and therapists, not all hospitals provide such options and due to this, the families only get to see the support treatment only once in a while the entire course of their child’s treatment. It has also been noted that the support provided to them stops once the child recovers and that they find it quite difficult to deal with their overwhelming emotions on their own leaving them with new stressors that adjust back to normal things. In addition to working hard to find cures for cancer, it is also equally important to advocate psychological support as a standard of care when it comes to dealing with childhood cancer. This means that social workers, child life services, and therapists should be mandatorily aware of the treatment plan and provide support to the family every step of the way.
Researchers should be conducted to find a cure for the long term with as minimal risks as possible. Research is still underway to find more resilient and healthy brains for the child. The processes are still underway; there are neuroimaging studies to test whether therapy can reduce pain and promote healthy brain development. While the brain is in its stage of development they are more sensitive to cancer treatments and stress so it is during this time the brain might be more receptive to all the treatment and help that are provided.
Am I at risk?
Being an overcomer of experience growing up with cancer, it for the most part involves continuous tests for repeating cancer to pay special attention to the late impacts of cancer. Most survivors can undoubtedly adapt to these different sorts of burdens while some will generally foster discouragement and nervousness with side effects of post-horrible pressure. The risk is mostly in relation to the type of cancer that you might have experienced. Kids who have gone through cancer therapy to the cerebrum or spine-like chemotherapy or radiation treatment, bone marrow, or undifferentiated cell transfers have a high possibility of encountering profound misery.
The following factors contribute to the riks,
- Being female
- Having emotional wellness or learning issues before adolescent cancer
- Having an earlier injury
- Being a juvenile or youthful grown-up
- Having guardians with a background marked by depression, nervousness, or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Having low degrees of social help
When should I seek help?
If you experience any sort of emotional distress that lasts for more than a week or two, you need to talk to your healthcare physician. If these symptoms are not treated promptly they may interfere with your ability to perform well at home, school, or work. A referral to your mental health specialist will be put in order and a thorough check-up will be done. These symptoms are given careful thought due to their ability to cause physical damage and other health problems in the individual. Look out for the following changes and if you experience any of these, make sure to inform your, doctor, promptly,
- Changes in hunger or weight
- Feeling miserable, considerations of death, escape, self-destruction
- Consistent sluggishness and low energy level
- Expanded peevishness
- Dozing a great deal or not resting soundly
- Feeling exceptionally unfortunate, upset, or irate while contemplating cancer
- Less interest in exercises that you used to like
- Actual responses (quick pulse, windedness, sickness) while contemplating cancer
- Undesirable review of excruciating parts of the tumor
- Declining to discuss cancer
- Not going to your medical care visits
What can I do to make myself feel better?
If you feel anxious or depressed, talk to your friends and family about how you feel and what is going through your mind. Try to gain control of your thoughts and emotions. Some join support groups, and some indulge in fun activities or call on their sense of spirituality.
Clinical medicines for discouragement and nervousness help as well and a portion of the reasonable choices remember one-for-one talk treatment, drug, or a blend of both. Your doctor will help you access the right kind of therapy that you might need. Online help is also available.
Cancer survivors have made different care groups that incorporate data and instruments to assist them with enduring once their treatment closes. Some websites that do so are as follows,
The American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org)offers a web-based support network and a variety of people and different projects and administrations that help these survivors and give hope to them.
(www.patientcenters.com/survivors) Patient-Centered Guides give a rundown of follow-up therapies for youth cancer survivors and articles connected with something very similar for mental parts of survivorship.
What should I tell my doctor?
If you feel any kind of emotional distress, tell your doctor about that immediately. Your mental state will be evaluated and the right kind of treatment option will be provided to you. The resources that you might need to cope with the stress of being a survivor and any other shirts of help that you might need will be done.
It can be quite challenging to transition into a survivor but the completion of the treatment phase can be an exciting one. It can be quite bothersome that you need not have a regular medical team and the adjustments that need to be made to return to your everyday life can be quite different. However, the one thing that most survivors worry about is this relapse and whether they would have to again visit the emergency room. Our experts in the psychological team will help the patients cope with the struggles that arise during this transition and beyond. It is important that patients go through treatment programs for long-term recovery and for the monitoring of effects that might occur as a result of the treatments. The caregivers of the hospital team offer academic support, psychotherapy, emotional support, and psychiatric services.