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Can Cancer Cause PTSD?

Discussion in 'General' started by batgirl, Feb 18, 2007.

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  1. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

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    I was doing a search for cancer and PTSD online, and I discovered all these studies and theories about how a cancer diagnosis can be traumatic enough for someone to develop PTSD. Here's one of the articles I read:
    There are many more articles. You just have to search for cancer and PTSD and there are tons.

    Honestly, I never thought of cancer being bad enough to cause PTSD. I mean it doesn't fit all the criteria in my mind.

    Anyways, I was just wondering what others think about this.
     
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Cancer is definately a cause for PTSD. What you must look at to determine what can, and what cannot, cause PTSD, are the initial criteria for diagnosis, being:
    1. Did you experience, witness, or were confronted with an event/s that involved actual or threatened death, serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of yourself or others?
    2. Did your response involve intense fear, helplessness, or horror?
    Now, to be diagnosed with PTSD, you must be able to answer yes to both these questions, and then determined under the DSM as abnormal trauma, outside normal expected life trauma, such as death of a loved one under normal circumstances, mild emotional abuse such as your sibling telling you to get out of their room, etc. These type things are classed as normal life trauma, and will not be recognised for PTSD.

    Cancer however, is not a normal expected life event, thus it is "abnormal". Would a cancer sufferer be confronted with #1? Yes. Would a cancer sufferer have thoughts pertaining to #2? Yes. A cancer sufferer would be thinking they are going to die, even if they aren't, so the fear, helplessness, etc, all present, which means the person has suffered abnormal trauma and met the two criteria to continue evaluation. If you don't meet the first two criteria, evaluation for PTSD stops, and a lesser diagnosis will be looked at.
     
  4. Jim

    Jim Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. Initally I would have said no, it's not traumatic enough. But you're correct, it does fit the criteria, and it is an abnormal life event. Not ever having cancer myself, can't honestly judge how badly a person feels having it. Definitely something for me to consider, especially in how I've treated various family members with the diagnosis.

    Jim.
     
  5. mac

    mac Active Member

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    I'm no expert or doctor, but I would be as bold to say that the symptoms of PTSD can be so severe as to cause/initiate cancer itself.
     
  6. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Oh, I will add though, in that just because a person does meet the initial two criteria, that does not mean they have PTSD, obviously as they must meet all the rest of the criteria. The first two criteria are merely to evaluate whether a physician would continue that avenue of diagnosis or move to another.
     
  7. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

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    Thanks for this Anthony. I change my mind then, I guess it can cause PTSD. It is really interesting. But if you already have PTSD and then you get cancer, are you re-traumatized or something? Or does it matter?
     
  8. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    What mac actually said also, is actually very accurate, in that PTSD itself can cause cancer if untreated because the sheer stress upon the body breaks down the bodies natural immune system in which it fights against such illness being formed within our body. PTSD can most definately cause PTSD if left untreated... though from my experience, heart attack will generally get a person first though, alcohol / nicotine second, then other issues.
     
  9. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

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    So then I could have cancer because I have PTSD ??? Actually I do have cancer indirectly from being shot... stomach trauma increases your chances of stomach cancer by quite a lot...

    But yeah that makes sense, if you don't treat PTSD you can die from self-medicating or a heart attack, etc, not taking care of yourself in some way. The nurse at my panic group said untreated anxiety can wreck your health and eventually kill you.
     
  10. porkyrees

    porkyrees Member

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    Tend to agree with mac and anthony I would suspect PTSD to cause the cancer not vice versa.Definately leads to heart disease I have a few dead mates that can testify to that.Porky Rees
     
  11. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Porky, you too have seen it in action then, hence why your fixing your own lifestyle now. Besides my inability to accept that I was being told I could not function in life again, seeing my mate who has PTSD from the same operations I got it, having heart attack after heart attack, five last time I had seen him a few years ago, bypass also, he is a couple of years older than me, was certainly enough to wake me up.

    Evie... I don't see your PTSD giving you cancer, more the shooting and surgery gave you your cancer. Normally cancer takes much longer to progress from stress than just five years. I am talking 10 - 20 years of high stress living, that will do it. But... there are no time limits on cancer, that is for sure. Some peoples immune system is less than others, and PTSD itself certainly has its role on the immune system when uncontrolled from anxiety and stress. People with PTSD will often get the flu more than those without trauma, as their systems are not as stressed, with all the good antibodies working so hard to just keep things functioning, let alone introducing a new bacteria to the body.

    Evie, the shooting itself is not what gave you cancer or PTSD IMO. What gave you PTSD was that your father shot you, and the circumstances surrounding the shooting, being your family got shot. If you got shot in war, your outcome would be very different. You have emotional value attached to your shooting, hence why it is completely different from say someone just being shot by a stranger. Yes, fear of death will still produce PTSD possibly, but yours is much more than just a shooting. Your surgery most likely produced the cancer, though the surgery was a result of the shooting, and in order to save your life, was essential and a good risk. Doctors where looking for it, as they knew it would be along, just a matter of when, not so much if!

    Ironic as it is, having cancer can cause PTSD because a person feels they may die; yet having PTSD from another trauma can then cause cancer in itself. Look at people who have PTSD, they also tend to have a higher rate of smoking, or depending on some type of drug or addictive method in which to help keep anxiety in check, depression even. These drugs, methods and things we do to our bodies increase our chances of many illnesses, smoking, alcohol, medications, drugs (pot), over the counter drugs (headaches caused by stress)... the list goes on.

    The more you get into these cycles, these methods, the more you increase your chances of earlier death. Simple as that really. You can live with PTSD without drugs, without alcohol, without cigarettes, pot, etc etc... it just takes a lot of solid hard work to achieve. You can function in life healthier than ever before, and I have said it before, its a lifestyle change, one you must be prepared to stick with and fight for in order for survival.
     
  12. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

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    Yes that's very true I guess.... being shot is not the issue at all. If my dad stabbed me or tried to beat me to death, etc, the outcome would be the same likely. It all boils down to my dad being the perpetrator. A stranger would have been much easier to take. My uncle was shot by a stranger in Croatia and needed surgery, but he's totally fine, no emotional trauma at all. No long term physical problems either. I'm jealous...

    I get colds, flus, and other minor illnesses really easily, and I never used to. Never quite made the connection, but being stressed out constantly is most likely a factor. I hope that when I've recovered from being ill, I can concentrate more on eating properly, exercising, etc, to minimize my stress levels. I'm already free of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, I've even given up caffeine now. So it's a good start.
     
  13. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    That is really well done Evie.... people don't realize just how much of a problem those substances are, and how they actually contribute to unbalancing your system when PTSD is present. Nicotine and caffeine are one thing without PTSD, but because PTSD throws out our neurological balance, it then as a consequence tunes our susceptability to other things, ie. caffeine, nicotine, alcohol.... and we become more easily depressed using any off them merely because the imbalance our brain has already endured. Nicotine is a stimulant, but the stimulant effects adjusts our balances, and whilst we with PTSD use things that we believe are helping us, they actually hinder us more than do good, its just people can't see it because they go into withdrawal symptoms, lose control, and think its all to do with the nicotine or caffeine, etc... when in fact its our bodies over exagerated response because of PTSD due to withdrawals. Fight withdrawals of any substance, and you should actually find things are easier to maintain if you have the knowledge and determination to fight.
     
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