What Happens In Your Brain When You Get Diagnosed With Cancer

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According to the American Cancer Society, each year in the United States alone, about 210,000 people are diagnosed with the disease of cancer. While there is no cure for cancer at the moment, new treatments and therapies are being developed that can extend a patient’s life by a few months or even years.The American Brain Foundation reports that 1 in every 68 people in the US will develop some type of brain disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. This puts everyone at risk of developing an intellectual disability due to such diseases. The good news is that you don’t have to stay sick if you’re diagnosed with cancer. In this blog post we will discuss what happens in your brain when you get diagnosed with cancer and how it might affect you emotionally and cognitively.

What Happens in Your Brain When You Get Diagnosed With Cancer?

As soon as a doctor tells you or a loved one that they have cancer, the brain goes into high panic mode! All of a sudden, your body goes into fight mode, resulting in a surge of the stress hormone called cortisol that can wreak havoc on the brain. The hippocampus, which is responsible for memory retention, is one of the first places that cortisol attacks.Cancer patients often experience what is called “acute stress”. Such a diagnosis can have a devastating effect on your mental health as well as general well-being. This is because the brain responds to a cancer diagnosis in the same way that it would to a life-threatening event such as being in an accident or having a loved one die. There is a significant amount of fear, anxiety, and even depression that occurs in the aftermath of such a diagnosis.

Depressive Disorders

A depressive disorder is a mental illness characterized by feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, hopelessness, and in extreme cases, suicidal ideation. Commonly known as depression, this disorder affects millions of people every year. Unfortunately, depression is also common in cancer patients.There are different types of depressive disorders. Major depression is the most common one, in which a person experiences depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for at least a week. In patients with cancer, the risk of developing a depressive disorder is about 30%, and it is more common in females than males.Typical symptoms of depression include fatigue, insomnia or hypersomnia, poor concentration, excessive guilt, lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Anxiety Disorders and PTSD

Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness or fear that is often accompanied by physiological symptoms, such as sweating, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and muscle tension. Patients who are diagnosed with cancer often experience anxiety disorders such as insomnia, social withdrawal, and agoraphobia.The most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders in cancer patients are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person experiences uncontrollable and repetitive urges to perform certain tasks.OCD is a common disorder that affects about 1 in 50 people. Women are more likely to have this disorder than men.OCD is also relatively common among cancer patients, although it is not clear why.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative brain disorder that causes a slow yet relentless decline in memory and cognitive functions. This disease can be extremely detrimental to one’s health, affecting the mind and the body in such a way that the patient is dependent on those around them for everyday tasks.Dementia is a neurological disorder that causes a progressive decline in memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and language. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, it is important to note that not all forms of dementia are caused by Alzheimer’s.

Improving Cognitive Functioning and Brain Health After Cancer Treatment

The good news is that there are some things you can do to protect your brain and cognitive functioning against the effects of cancer and its treatment.If you are diagnosed with cancer, make sure to talk to your doctor about the various therapeutic and preventative measures that can be taken to ensure that your brain is not affected by the disease.Diet is one of the most important factors in protecting your brain from the negative effects of cancer. Other important lifestyle factors include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, avoiding stress, and spending time with loved ones.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, cancer is a disease that affects millions of people every year. However, new treatments and therapies are being developed that can extend a patient’s life by a few months or even years. The bad news is that when you are diagnosed with cancer, your brain goes into panic mode! All of a sudden, your body goes into fight mode, resulting in a surge of the stress hormone called cortisol that can wreak havoc on the brain.The hippocampus, which is responsible for memory retention, is one of the first places that cortisol attacks. It is extremely important to take care of your mental health and general well-being during such a stressful time. While there is no cure for cancer, there are certain things you can do to protect your brain from the negative effects of cancer and its treatment.