Death Anxiety in Cancer Patient

Death Anxiety

Cancer is a class of diseases categorized by uncontrollable cell growth. There are more than 100 various kinds of cancer, and each is classified by the kind of cell that is primarily affected. Cancer can be considered as life-threatening and can affect in a crisis reaction. Anxiety levels vary over the course of treatment and tend to be at peak during diagnostic tests and at the end of treatment. Extensive pain and disease are connected with a higher incidence of anxiety.

What is Death Anxiety?

Death anxiety means the experience of panic, fear, terror and other sorrow associated with the mindfulness of one’s mortality. Even though all humans face the certainty of death, the extent to which it is a prominent and conscious threat may vary significantly across the lifespan and the contexts.

Death anxiety may be estimated to be common in people with advanced cancer, although to date, there has been comparatively little experimental research on this outcome in cancer patients.

Man cannot stay away from attraction, anger, greed, likes and dislikes prejudices and preferences. In a similar way, he cannot escape from ‘death.’ Man makes many efforts to achieve peace but fails to find it. Both inside and outside the home, he feels agitated, sad, tired, mental fatigue and boredom. He does not feel like doing anything and attempts to live a lonely life. That person always thinks of death however doesn’t discuss it with anyone. He will experience insomnia and might lose confidence due to the fear of death. The death of fear is actual however more imaginary.

Determinants of Death Anxiety

  • Physical symptoms
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Having dependent children
  • Increasing age
  • Loss of control
  • Feelings of powerlessness

Factors Contributing to Death Anxiety among Cancer Patients

People may get scared of the dying process more than they fear the actual death, as dying can cause cancer patients to worry about pain, losing control, being a burden, weakness, losing one’s sense of purpose and separation anxiety from family members,.

Below are the factors that contribute to death anxiety:

  1. In the course of cancer, the person’s physical and agonizing pain, his mental state, looking after his old parents, thinking about the spouse and children, their future, all these thoughts build tension and anxiety.
  2. The second factor may include permanent separation after death.
  3. The third factor of death anxiety may include if the body buried after death, insects will destroy his body. This very thought makes few people scared of death as the body had enjoyed all kinds of luxuries when the person was alive.
  4. The anxiety of unfamiliar, unseen place is one of the causes. There may be great cold or heat, he has to go all alone, fierce animals might kill him, and he may be in unanticipated difficulties. These kind of anxieties are very common. Hence, this is also a kind of death anxiety.
  5. A person might still have lots of interest or desires in many worldly things which will remain unsatisfied or unfulfilled. This is also one of the anxieties of death.
  6. After death depending upon their belief they might feel like if he goes to hell he will be tortured by various animals and insects. He would have to suffer that kind of torture.
  7. A person feels the uneasiness that the activity or responsibilities he is doing will remain unfinished if when he dies. The work which he had planned to achieve for the betterment of his family will be left unfinished.
  8. Believing that death is complete destruction can also be one of the causes of death anxiety.

Quality of Life and its correlation to Death Anxiety for Cancer Patients

Terminal cancer patients who fight with psychological suffering show a high correlation to poor quality of life, which influences their capability to connect with other people, to experience pleasure, and discover meaning in life. Severe death anxiety has been associated with psychosomatic problems, insomnia, and schizophrenic and depression type symptoms.

Cancer is often associated with a great deal of psychological distress and mood disturbances affecting the quality of life and well-being. Cancer treatments are not at all times beneficial; there are actual approaches for improving cancer patients’ coping and quality of life, even in low resource settings. Health-related quality of life (QOL) has developed as a substantial medical outcome measure, and its development is an important aim in oncology and other medical disciplines. So, there is a need to realize better, the relative contributions of numerous factors upsetting patients’ perceptions and reports of satisfaction and well-being with life. All types of wellbeing, including spiritual and psychosocial, turn out to be influential in making a person think confidently towards life and not much anxious about what will occur in future, no matter if they are even at the advanced phase of cancer. Spiritual well-being is a theoretically an influencing factor on patients’ quality of life. It has been proved that spiritual well-being improves other well-being and decreases death anxiety.

Several studies have shown that religious participation and spirituality are related with improved health outcome, handling skills, and health associated quality of life, as well as lesser rates of anxiety, suicide and depression and that addressing the spiritual requirements of the patient may augment recovery from illness. Additionally, research has established that spiritual well-being is definitely associated with quality of life, and fighting spirit, however, also acceptance, yet destructively correlated with hopelessness, helplessness, cognitive avoidance and anxious concern.

It is strongly suggested that for cancer patients, there is a necessity for holistic health care plan built on spiritual growth for improving their emotional wellbeing, psycho-social, spiritual well-being and also the physical well-being too, to a certain amount.

Bottom Line/Conclusion

Stress can bring up unsettled anxieties for a cancer patient, so counsellors are becoming an important member of the interdisciplinary cancer team and are aiding to contribute positive assistance to the patient’s quality of life. By combining a counselling method that comprises flexibility, emotional support, identifying of a patient’s strengths, and attending to a patient review his or her life story aids the cancer people to come to an acceptance of their impending death. Patients frequently cope with cancer much as they coped with other kinds of struggles in life, so counsellors who become conscious of their clients’ coping skills can aid them to resolve their anxieties and emotional pain with the help of some of the same tools.