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Coping with depression – Part 1: People with cancer more likely to use drugs for depression

12-29 | Rachael

Coping with depression – Part 1: People with cancer more likely to use drugs for depression

Considering the fast-paced life and immense pressure to outperform, Americans today are more likely to suffer from depression. The extent of this mental condition is significantly higher in some states as compared to others. Similarly, the incidence of depression is also reported to be higher in certain ethnic groups.

People who have been diagnosed with chronic medical conditions are more likely to suffer from depressive episodes than others. This condition can be either triggered by their medications or can be a result of the ailment.

According to a recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in October 2016, people with cancer are more likely to use drugs for anxiety and depression. About 19 percent of adult cancer survivors fall under this criterion as compared to 10 percent of adults with no chronic diseases.

Increase in use of anxiety and depression drugs in cancer survivors

Psychologically, cancer survivors may be uncertain about their future and may fear the recurrence of their illness. This can greatly alter their self-image and lead to doubts about various issues of life. “Survivors can have uncertainty about the future, worries about recurrence, altered self-image, concerns about relationships, financial hardships, unwanted physical changes, or new physical impairments,” said lead study author Nikki Hawkins, a behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Such worries and thoughts can cumulatively affect the individual’s long-term emotional and physical well-being.

The study examined the sample data collected from 3,184 adults with a history of cancerous tumors and 44,997 adults with no such history. It was discovered that:

  • Approximately, 14 percent survivors took antidepressants compared to 8 percent adults in the other group.
  • When it came to anti-anxiety medications, the gap in the two groups was wider. Some 17 percent cancer survivors were on these medications as compared to 9 percent in the other group.
  • These findings speculate that roughly 2.5 million cancer survivors are on these psychiatric medications.

The study concluded that there is an urgent need for cancer survivors to attend to their mental health along with their physical health. Bouts with cancers can bring about depression and other types of mental disorders that can weaken the survivors’ immune system. This can lead to the commencement of poorer health habits and can significantly lower the odds of survival if cancer reoccurs.

Cancer survivors must be made aware of the fact that when they take medications for depression and anxiety, the drugs can interact with their other medications. Specific antidepressants are believed to reduce the effectiveness of tamoxifen, which is a drug given for breast cancer. Other psychotropic medicines have been known to increase the side effects of cancer drugs such as heart damage.

Path to recovery

Similar to cancer, many physical illnesses have been identified to trigger an array of mental disorder symptoms among patients. Factors like lifestyle, use of psychotropic medication, poor quality or access to health care can contribute to depression. Unfortunately, it is observed that such factors can also reduce the lifespan of such individuals and lead to a poorer quality of life.

On the other hand, mental conditions like chronic or clinical depression can also increase the chance of developing chronic physical ailments. It is quite a concern because over 80 percent people who display the symptoms of clinical depression do not receive any treatment for their condition. Moreover, the number of patients diagnosed with depression has been increasing roughly by 20 percent annually.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression or symptoms of other mental illnesses, it is imperative to seek professional help. Contact the Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado to connect to the best depression treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-427-5668 or chat online for further information.


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