Dr. Danka explains importance of psychotherapy for cancer patients

Dr. Danka. — Photo by Joseph Shagra

During a media roundtable held at Dr. Abdullah Ghloum clinic in Shaab with Dr. Juliet Danka, Sociologist and associate professor at the American University of Kuwait, explained the importance of psychotherapy for cancer patients. “Providing a patient with psychotherapy could save him. The treatment becomes effective only when a patient learn to accept the disease. When a patient thinks about the disease negatively, they tend to give up easily, which slows down the recovery process. Understanding the emotional reactions of patients with cancer could help in improving their recovery. A cancer patient’s mental well-being is just as important as their physical,” she said.

Danka affirmed that the shock is the initial reaction from anyone who receives such a diagnosis. Fear, is an emotion that most likely remains with a patient not only during the treatment but long after the treatment has been completed. Cancer patients will always have the fear of the new changes and how the community will react towards their diagnosis.

Danka advises cancer patients to follow a specific diet for a more effective treatment. It is very important for a cancer patient to be a positive environment with family members being very supportive and emotionally strong. The patient should live life as normally as possible and carry on by celebrating occasions like birthdays and holidays as a family. Meeting and talking with cancer survivors not only increases hope but also helps them share their feelings with someone who is familiar with their condition.

“I advise my patients to express their feelings but prevent taking sympathy from the people around them at the same time. Visitation hours should be about staying supportive and acting as normal as possible. Most patients do not like to be treated differently or to be sympathized with,” she added.

Social media and depression
Danka also revealed that the most frequent people to come to the clinics are parents, who suffer from the control of social media on their children. “Nowadays, social media has become a need for children. Parents give electronic devices to children as a means of distraction and to keep them busy while they carry on with their chores. Social media negatively affects the lives of our children so we have to control it as much as we can by controlling the usage of it,” she added.

She said that the first step to control the usage of smart devices is that parents must control themselves on how they use their smartphones while they are around their children, as children tend to copy them. “Electronic devices must be avoided during family gatherings or on the dining table. Parents must be strict in making such decisions and should not give up even if the child starts to cry. We must prepare our child for the hard life they will face in the future,” she said.

On the other hand, people in Kuwait still believe that going to therapy means that you are crazy although most people are depressed because of changes in their lives. “You may be depressed if for more than two weeks you’ve been feeling sad, low or miserable, or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities. It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you’re depressed. Equally, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.”

She noted that the signs and symptoms of having depression are insomnia, withdrawal from close family and friends, not being able to enjoy activities, lacking confidence, feeling unhappy and miserable, tired all the time, loss or change of appetite and significant weight loss or gain.

By Faten Omar

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