Meditation? Mushrooms? How do you deal with cancer-based anxiety?

From the stress of awaiting initial scan and biopsy results to the anguish of wondering how long remission will last, cancer patients know all about anxiety. Today comes the news of two small studies suggesting that a single dose of the psychedelic drug in "magic mushrooms" can alleviate anxiety and depression for months.

But it's early days for this therapy. No one is suggesting that based on this work, cancer patients should start dosing themselves with psilocybin.

What remedies are effective -- and available? 

A study earlier this year at Duke University found that meditation and music eased anxiety and pain among women having a breast cancer biopsy.

Knowledge and understanding genetic risks can also be a powerful antidote to anxiety, according to a new study by University of Pennsylvania researchers.

Other things that have been shown to help, the National Cancer Institute says, include counseling, group therapy, hypnosis, relaxation training, guided imagery, and biofeedback. And, of course, there are approved medications for anxiety, depression, and insomnia.  

If you've grappled with cancer-related anxiety, what strategies have given you relief? You can share your advice as a comment to this post, or by emailing health@philly.com.


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