A study out of Greece suggests that recognizing and addressing demoralization early can help improve cancer patients’ mental health.
The goal of the study was to look at how anxiety and depression affect cancer patients’ lives and health services.
Measuring Anxiety and Depression
The researchers in this study talked to 150 cancer patients from two cancer centers. They used survey tools to measure anxiety, depression, and demoralization.
Demoralization is when someone feels like they have lost hope and are discouraged about their situation. Someone who is experiencing demoralization might have a hard time finding meaning in their life.
People with mesothelioma often struggle with anxiety, depression, and demoralization. Mesothelioma is a cancer that forms in the lining of organs like the lungs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos. Most patients with mesothelioma are elderly and male. Treatment for mesothelioma is difficult and the five-year survival rate is poor.
A mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating for a family. Only about 2,500 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. This makes it a lonely disease for caregivers and patients. In many cases, a family may not know anyone else who has the disease.
Patients and their caregivers can experience hopelessness, blame, and psychological distress. They also face uncertainty around financial issues and medical concerns. The painful symptoms of mesothelioma are a huge source of stress, as well.
Improving Quality of Life
After talking to the cancer patients, the researchers found that anxiety was higher in women and in younger patients. Unmarried patients had a higher likelihood of depression.
Demoralization also had a big impact on both anxiety and depression across all patients. The researchers found that having more education was linked to higher levels of anxiety. On the other hand, having a good relationship with healthcare providers helped to lower depression levels.
These results suggest that recognizing and addressing mental health early in the cancer treatment process can improve quality of life.
Other studies have shown that having a strong support network can improve mental well-being. A strong social support network can increase the likelihood of experiencing resilience.
Arvaniti E, Nikoloudi M, Tsoukalas N, Parpa E, Mystakidou K. Factors associated with anxiety and depression in cancer patients: Demographic factors and the role of demoralization and satisfaction with care [published online ahead of print, 2023 Feb 16]. Psychooncology. 2023;10.1002/pon.6115. doi:10.1002/pon.6115. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36797821/