People often have questions about serious illness and what can be done to help a person emotionally when they are coping with a serious medical condition. Here are some answers.
Q. How important is it to treat the mind as well as the body during a serious illness?
A. When people are ill, it’s important to deal with the illness on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. If you treat just the body, you short-change yourself.
We don’t know exactly how the mind/body connection works, but we do have biochemical evidence that there’s a connection.
Q. What are some areas where psychology can help those patients diagnosed with a serious illness?
A. There are six areas where psychology can help:
finding the best fit in medical interventions
forming a support group to help the patient
dealing with the needs of family and friends
reducing the side effects of medical treatments (like chemotherapy)
helping patients cope with the “after-illness experience.”
Q. How has psychology helped with specific illnesses?
A. AIDS Psychological interventions are helping gay, HIV–positive men better deal with their diagnosis, using stress management techniques, social support and body relaxation training. The interventions are intended to counteract the fact that, for some people, finding out that they are HIV-positive may lead to social isolation and poor coping strategies that could suppress the immune system.