Caring for someone with cancer isn’t an easy task. From the emotional toll of seeing them in pain to the physical exhaustion of having to keep up with their demands, there are tons of things that can make the process extremely draining. To add up to the challenges, cancer patients often demonstrate emotional changes, and dealing with their sudden moodiness can be quite difficult on your part as well.
Before you give in to the stress, it’s best to know why these sudden shifts in the patient’s mood happen in the first place. Below is an overview of how and why cancer patients tend to exhibit extreme mood swings and how you can confront these outbursts while giving them the care they need.
Cancer and Mood Swings: How do they relate?
As the name suggests, mood swings refer to the rapid and intense changes in a person’s mood. Generally, mood swings are considered normal and shouldn’t be a cause of concern. Scientists often linked sudden mood shifts with hormone fluctuations. Women, for instance, experience mood swings before their period due to a low level of estrogen. This estrogen deficiency can, in turn, lead to a drop in serotonin, thereby contributing to mood swings.
However, while these shifts in mood associated with pre-menstrual syndrome are normal, the same can’t be said with those linked with serious illnesses, such as cancer. Unlike in the former, people dealing with cancer can exhibit more serious mood swings. Moreover, the cause of their mood shifts is a lot more complicated than mere hormonal imbalance. Many factors could contribute to their outbursts.
Changes in their day-to-day routine, for instance, can make them feel less in control and can affect their emotional wellbeing. Pain and bodily discomfort can also put their emotions all over the place. Even medications and treatment can trigger a range of strong emotions in the patients, especially since some methods involve steroids.
Overall, these factors contribute and lead to rapid changes in one’s mood. Many emotions could arise from shame to sudden waves of anger and put a cancer patient on edge. Sure, while some of these emotional outbursts may be easy to understand, there are instances where the patient’s quick changes in mood could be a little too taxing on the people around them. Hurtful words could be uttered, and the slightest mistake could trigger an episode of animosity.
How to Manage Mood Swings of Cancer Patients?
Fortunately, while patients’ mood swings cannot be avoided completely, there are ways to help cancer patients manage them. Some of the best techniques include:
- Introduce a routine
Many studies have been published suggesting the importance of a routine both for the mind and body. Often, when people don’t have a day-to-day routine, they’re likely to feel loss and less in control of their lives. Further, their days could go on without bringing feelings of accomplishment or satisfaction. Unfortunately, this is likely the case for most people with cancer, especially those already in the advanced stage and who don’t have much to do at home other than rest and take their medications. When this happens, they’re likely to feel uneasy, which may contribute to mood swings.
On the other hand, helping them develop a daily routine will help them feel more in control. They are also less likely to feel anxious or uneasy. Plus, they can monitor their development day by day.
While it’s normal to feel worried about them overexerting themselves, having a routine is still better than having none at all. You can start with a simple list, such as when they should take a bath, eat, take their medication, exercise, and spend a few minutes out in the garden. To develop a routine that suits their current health status, you can also consult their health care provider. This way, you can help develop a daily routine that’ll help your loved one less likely to feel lost and secluded from the rest of the world while keeping them in top shape.
- Talk it out
While it’s not helpful to talk about everything that’s on your mind with a loved one suffering from a serious illness, it’s still important to stay connected and have open communication with them. Doing so won’t just help make you two closer. Still, the same will also help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation on the part of the patient, thereby improving their overall mental health.
Moreover, keeping your communication open will allow both of you to understand each other better. On your part, you can figure out what they are feeling at the moment. This will help you understand where their sudden outbursts are coming from and how their conditions affect their overall well-being. Likewise, the same will enable your loved one to know how their actions affect you and the people around them.
- Ask for help
Caring for someone with cancer is quite a daunting task. Naturally, you might find yourself struggling to keep up with the sudden changes in the patient’s physical appearance and behaviors. Before the loads become too heavy to bear, it’s best to ask for a stay-at-home nurse or counselor as early as now.
The Bottom Line
A cancer diagnosis is but the beginning of a lengthy list of major life changes. If you have a loved one who has cancer, know that taking care of him will come with its share of problems. From physical to emotional changes, many factors can make the whole process draining for everyone involved. The patient’s mood swings can especially add more challenges on your part.
If you notice extreme mood changes or feel like the sudden shifts in your loved one’s behaviors are already affecting his normal day-to-day life, contact a doctor right away. Here at New Hope Unlimited, we offer expert advice and alternative cancer treatments that may help benefit your loved one. Schedule an appointment today!