Editor’s Note: Originally published in November 2017, this blog post was updated in May 2023.
It is not unusual for a life-altering diagnosis like cancer to induce deep emotional distress in the patient and affected family members. Depression is particularly prevalent among pancreatic cancer patients, and PanCAN Patient Services is here to help and provide information and resources.
A study published in 2017 sheds light on cancer patients experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, at higher rates and for a longer duration than previously expected. PTSD is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.”
“It is not surprising that a cancer diagnosis – especially with a particularly challenging disease like pancreatic cancer – could lead to depression or even PTSD,” said Nicole Feingold, MA, senior director of Patient Services at PanCAN. “But it’s very important for patients, family members and healthcare professionals to recognize and address the symptoms, so that the person can feel better as well as tolerate treatment.”
Support for the pancreatic cancer patient is critical to improve quality of life and overall well-being. Having a support system of caregivers, family, friends, healthcare professionals and a PanCAN Patient Services Case Manager is important to address and manage the needs of the patient.
PanCAN Patient Services provides pancreatic cancer patients and caregivers with resources that can help them connect with a counselor or mental health professional to discuss and care for their feelings and concerns with depression or PTSD. PanCAN Patient Services Case Managers can also connect people with a local support group or other survivors and caregivers with whom they can share experiences.
“No one should face this disease or its physical or emotional repercussions alone,” Feingold added. “Patients and their family members should feel comfortable and supported by their healthcare team. We at PanCAN strongly recommend seeking a healthcare team that addresses all of your physical, mental and emotional needs.”