THE LACNETS PODCAST
Episode 15: Psycho-Oncology
ABOUT THIS EPISODE:
What is psycho-oncology and how can it benefit those living with NET? Psychiatrist Dr. Mona Mojtahedzadeh of Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology discusses whole-person care for cancer patients and caregivers. From “scanxiety” to sleep hygiene, she acknowledges the range of challenges of living with cancer and shares solutions to improve mental well-being and overall health.
MEET DR. MONA MOJTAHEDZADEH
Mona Mojtahedzadeh, MD, is a psychiatrist at Simms-Mann/UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, which allows her to continue to perform a work of meaning within a valued population who embrace her into some of their most pivotal moments along their cancer illness trajectory. Dr. Mojtahedzadeh is board certified in Psychiatry as well as in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. She obtained her MD from Tehran, Iran’s Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences. She was a general and family practitioner at an underserved health and urgent care clinic in Iran. She completed her psychiatry training through residencies at Texas Tech University Health and Science Center coupled with Loma Linda University Health, where she was granted the department’s research award of the year. She completed a consultation-liaison (C-L) psychiatry fellowship at the University of Southern California and Los Angeles County (LAC+USC) and later served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope National Medical Center and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at USC. Her scholarly work includes over 32 publications, posters, and book chapters in areas of medicine, mental health, and their overlap. Learn more about Dr. Mojtahedzadeh and her background here.
TOP 10 PSYCHO-ONCOLOGY QUESTIONS
1. Who might seek a psychiatrist? How does one go about finding a psychiatrist that is right for him or her?
2. What is psycho-oncology? If someone living with NET is looking for a psychiatrist, should they seek someone who has trained in psycho-oncology? How does one find such a person?
3. How do you determine if symptoms such as depression, anxiety, mood swing, or fatigue are symptoms caused by their NET cancer or not?
4. Is it safe for NET patients, particularly those with high levels of serotonin, to take antidepressants such as SSRIs that may increase levels of serotonin?
5. If someone living with NET struggles with depression, what is your approach? How do you determine the best treatment option?
6. If someone living with NET struggles with anxiety, how would you approach this patient and how might you manage it?
7. If someone living with NET struggles with sleep issues, what might your thoughts be?
8. What suggestions might you have for loved ones of someone living with cancer who is trying to support someone struggling with depression, anxiety, or mood swings?
9. What suggestions do you have for coping with one’s cancer diagnosis? How might one find some stability and peace during what often feels like a rollercoaster ride?
10. What last words of hope would you leave with the audience?
"Psycho-oncology is a broad term which encompasses a wide range of psychosocial care to anyone impacted by cancer, whether it is for the individual patient themselves or for their families, loved ones, or caretakers. The idea is to address the breath and soul that may go along with a cancer illness journey. This would ideally incorporate a collaborative work between providers from various disciplines including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, oncologists, nurses, palliative care providers, spiritual leaders, nutritionists, and so on who would specialize in the care for cancer, and with a shared mission to improve the well-being and the quality of life of those impacted.”
—Mona Mojtahedzadeh, MD
Books & Poems
The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty by Jimmie C. Holland, M.D. and Sheldon Lewis
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. & David Kessler
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Isenberg-Grzeda, E., MacGregor, M., Matsoukas, K., Chow, N., Reidy-Lagunes, D., & Alici, Y. (2020). Must antidepressants be avoided in patients with neuroendocrine tumors? Results of a systematic review. Palliative & supportive care, 18(5), 602-608.
La Salvia, A., Pomeri, A. P., Persano, I., Trevisi, E., Parlagreco, E., Colombi, N., ... & Oliva, F. (2021). Serotoninergic brain dysfunction in neuroendocrine tumor patients: A scoping review. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 109, 152244