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Emotional Reactions

Coping with a disease such as mesothelioma undoubtedly causes great anxiety and distress. Many patients and their families also feel intensely angry that the disease is caused by exposure to asbestos and, in most cases, should have been prevented. Apart from learning about the serious disease and the lack of curative treatments many patients have to deal with repeated admissions to hospital and symptoms that may be difficult to control as well as benefits and compensation processes.

Although most patients manage to deal with their reactions with the help and support of family members, some may need professional help, if, for example, they become very depressed or suffer from overwhelming anxiety. Talking to a Macmillan nurse or GP will usually help and it will also enable these professionals to decide if medication or referral to a specialist such as a psychiatrist or psychologist is indicated.

Sometimes meeting other people suffering with the same or a similar illness can be helpful. Your nurse specialist should be able to advise you it there is an appropriate patient group held in your area.

Complementary therapies can be extremely effective, particularly in relieving anxiety and helping people to cope with the illness, these therapies are widely available free of charge through cancer charities and hospices, and are increasingly provided by some NHS services. Complementary therapies may include relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, massage, visualisation and others. Creative therapies such as art and music therapies may also help.

Medications to relieve anxiety or lift depression are highly effective and may help to restore some quality of life, the newer treatments have few side-effects and are not addictive.