A definition of distress in patient with cancer was proposed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). The features can be applied to the distress associated with other serious diseases. What triggers the distress may be highly individual.


Features of the distress associated with a disease:

(1) an unpleasant emotional experience

(2) multifactorial

(3) has the potential to be disabling for the patient

(4) may interfere with the ability to cope with all or parts of the disease and its treatment

(5) may vary in severity during the course of the disease, from none to extreme


As a result of the distress the patient may experience:

(1) depression, dysphoria, anxiety, panic or other psychological responses

(2) social isolation or withdrawal

(3) a change in behavior or personality

(4) impairment of intimate relationships

(5) a spiritual crisis


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