Depression Shortens Lives of Cancer Patients

It is well known throughout the health care industry that there is a direct link between depression and serious illness. This link can have significant implications for anyone with an illness as it can hamper an individual’s ability to fully recover. US News recently reported that in cancer patients, depression can shorten a person’s life. This finding is the result of an analysis of research that raised questions about the need to screen patients for psychological problems. “We found an increased risk of death in patients who report more depressive symptoms than others and also in patients who have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder compared to patients who have not,” said University of British Columbia graduate student Jillian Satin, co-author of a study published Sept. 14 in the journal Cancer. Studies were reviewed by Satin and colleagues, who were seeking to identify the strength of this link. The results provided information on how depression affects health in cancer patients. In all, 26 studies with more than 9,400 patients met the criteria for the analysis. Overall death rates among all studied patients were as much as 25 percent higher in those patients who reported they felt depressed. For those patients who had received a diagnosis of depression, the death rate was 39 percent higher. It could easily be argued that too many other factors would impact the outcome of these studies, skewing the results. Researchers did take these factors into account and still found that death rates were higher in depressed patients than those not suffering from depression. Even with these findings, more research is still necessary to confirm results and determine just how greatly depression affects cancer patients. Research can also be done to determine whether depression impacts death rates more in certain kinds of cancers over others.

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