In the five years I’ve been corresponding with men diagnosed with prostate cancer, I’ve never met anyone who received information about the possibility of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer. That’s surprising since it’s estimated that as many as one in three cancer survivors suffer from PTSD.
The rate of PTSD among cancer patients whose cancer has returned is as high as 81%! I’m at a loss to understand or explain why men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and their caretakers, are kept in the dark about the possibility of developing PTSD.
Below is a list of symptoms from cancer.net that are typical for those who are coping with PTSD:
• Nightmares and flashbacks
• Avoiding places, events, people, or things that bring back bad memories
• Strong feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or shame
• Trouble sleeping or concentrating
• Continuous feelings of fear or anger
• Loss of interest in activities and relationships that used to be enjoyable
• Self-destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse
• Frightening or unwanted thoughts
• Difficulty feeling emotions
Here are a few symptoms I have experienced:
• Thinking distressing thoughts about cancer, suffering, pain, and death almost every waking moment
• Increased fighting and negativity with my wife
• A total loss of interest in being affectionate, sexual, or kind
• Feeling isolated from healthy friends and family
• A short fuse, so my anger and irritability were on display multiple times a day
It’s important for cancer patients, and their caregivers, to know whether one of you is suffering from PTSD. Online diagnostic surveys should not be considered a substitute for obtaining professional help, but there are number of surveys that may help you determine if you’re experiencing PTSD. There’s a catch: We all have blind spots, which cause us to answer questions inaccurately.
Others may be self-medicating in such a way to keep the impact of PTSD to tolerable levels. Those who are self-medicating often are most resistant to seeking outside professional help because they engage in mood-altering behavior, which takes the edge off their distressing symptoms. This enables them to deny the depth of their internal and relational suffering. With those warnings in mind, here are some places to go to take a survey for PTSD:
I know from personal experience, it’s virtually impossible to use your willpower to vanquish your troubling thoughts and behaviors. Accepting the fact you are dealing with PTSD and agreeing to seek help is the first step toward healing. Here are some places you may find help coping with PTSD:
Cancer Treatment Support
I’m glad my wife and I chose to get professional help. It made a difference in our individual lives and with our marriage. Don’t make the destructive mistake of coping with PTSD alone.
Care to share your experiences with PTSD?
Note: Prostate Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Prostate Cancer News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to prostate cancer.