The following infographic, adapted from a paper by Wang et al. (2010) titled “Tai Chi on psychological well-being: Systematic review and meta-analysis,” highlights the outcomes of Tai Chi on mental health. Tai Chi is an effective relaxation, meditation, and stress management technique while also providing exercise. The mind-body medicine camp touts such a modality as “moving meditation.”
While none of the studies reviewed by Wang et al. (2010) explicitly included cancer patients, the results from HVI patients, cardiovascular patients, and patients enduring osteoarthritis appear encouraging. Here is why I consider it beneficial for cancer patients to look at the systematic review by Wang et al. (2010). The National Cancer Institute writes that
People who are better able to cope with stress have a better quality of life while they are being treated for cancer… (NCI, 2012).
The NCI website further states that psychological stress can influence the way a tumor will grow and spread. Moreover, a few patients might develop a sense of helplessness and/or hopelessness. Those cancer patients are totally overwhelmed by the stress of dealing with the disease and might find themselves way in over their heads (NCI, 2012).
Sadly, some data (although weak) hints that hopelessness and helplessness are connected with higher rates of death among cancer patients. This might be on account of cancer patients who find themselves in this hopeless/helpless circumstance might not seek treatment, toss the proverbial towel too early, or do not adhere to potentially lifesaving treatment regimens (NCI, 2012).
How can cancer patients cope with stress then?
The NCI suggests that people with cancer get support to cope with the psychological stressors associated whilst dealing with cancer. Support has the potential to decrease levels of depression, anxiety, and disease and treatment-related symptoms. Here are some forms of support the NCI (2012) recommends:
Training in relaxation, meditation, or stress management
- Counseling or talk therapy
- Cancer education sessions
- Social support in a group setting
- Medications for depression or anxiety
I urge cancer patients to speak to their healthcare providers about Tai Chi and mental health. Please make sure to discuss the benefits as well as possible drawbacks of choosing Tai Chi as an adjunct treatment to cancer care as usual. For more information on Tai Chi and mental health and the benefits for clinical populations please see the following infographic.I hope you liked this post on Tai Chi and mental health. Please follow me on Twitter as I curate much research for cancer patients in that place. As a matter of fact, I attempt to follow-up popular tweets that people shared with a “Digging Deeper” blog post, such as this one.
Additionally, please take a moment to share this article with your social network via the share buttons provide below. Thank you for your support!
National Cancer Institute. (2012, December 10). Retrieved from the National Cancer Institute website: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/stress
Wang, C., Bannuru, R., Ramel, J., Kupelnick, B., Scott, T., & Schmid, C. H. (2010). Tai Chi on psychological well-being: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 10(1), 23. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-23