Anxiety and depression are two common conditions experienced by people diagnosed with any type of cancer. When being diagnosed with cancer, people will start thinking about their family, future, and about dying. These things make them feel extremely depressed. The good news is that there’s a way to help reduce anxiety and depression among cancer patients. And that is through mindfulness, a new study says.
Depression in Cancer Patients
Although it isn’t always the case, depression is highly prevalent among cancer patients. Research shows that 35 to 40 percent of cancer patients experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. During the first year after they have been diagnosed, nearly 50% suffer from severe depression which is characterised by having low mood, lack of interest, and suicidal tendencies.
It was also reported that depression lengthens the hospitalisation period and increases the mortality rate among cancer patients. Such mental disorder aggravates their condition and takes away their sense of hope.
In fact, in the study by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, it was found that depression affects a patient’s likelihood to survive cancer. They saw a 25% increased rate of mortality among patients with depression than those who don’t have while there’s 35% increased rate to patients suffering from major depression.
Mindfulness-Based Psychological Therapies and Depression
In a research by the Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences and Aarhus University Hospital and the Danish Cancer Society, it was found that mindfulness-based psychological therapies can help cancer patients overcome depression and anxiety associated with their condition.
The lead author of the study, Jacob Piet – a PhD student from the Business and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences at the Aarhus University looked into the effects of mindfulness-based psychological therapies together with Bobby Zachariae, professor from Aarhus University and Hanne Würtzen from Danish Cancer Society.
The research was based on the analysis of 22 studies about mindfulness-based therapy which involved over 1,400 cancer patients. They’ve seen a significant effect in the reduction of depression symptoms. Aside from having no side effects, mindfulness-based therapies are inexpensive as compared to the traditional treatments for depression. The researchers also found out that the effects of mindfulness to cancer patients was maintained for at least 6 months after the therapy.
Their findings were published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
Mindfulness-based psychological therapy is rooted in Buddhist meditation techniques. It involves bodywork and techniques such as the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) that help a person evaluate their own feelings, physical sensations, and thoughts. Through these therapies, cancer patients learn how to improve their attention control and gain acceptance. This leads to reduced negative thoughts and reduced anxiety and depression. Mindfulness-based therapies were proven to be effective in helping people manage stress and prevent relapse in people with depression.
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