Prostate cancer among elderly men can lead to anxiety and depression. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in elderly men, and even though medical advancements are allowing more men to live with a diagnosis of prostate cancer, depression and anxiety can still linger and affect treatment and recovery.
Both depression and anxiety can have overall health effects and not just affect a person’s mental health. Numerous studies have linked depression to health consequences, such as weight gain, lower tolerance to pain and even poor cardiovascular health. Furthermore, depression and anxiety can harm a person’s overall well-being and quality of life, which can really work against them if they have a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety often go undiagnosed in prostate cancer patients, so patients never receive the proper care they require.
Previous study reveals prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery can lead to anxiety, depression
Previous research found that men who undergo prostate cancer surgery have higher levels of anxiety, which has been linked to poor sexual satisfaction and depression. The research also suggests that men who experience anxiety post-surgery could greatly benefit from counseling in order to combat anxiety and worries.
Senior investigator, Alexander Parker, Ph.D., said, “The 10-year survival for a man undergoing surgery to remove localized prostate cancer is greater than 95 percent. Given that the majority of men who undergo prostatectomy for prostate cancer will not die from their disease, we are concerned about what life will be like for these patients’ decades after diagnosis and treatment.”
The American Cancer Society suggests that many men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it, and 2.5 million men in the U.S. alone are living with prostate cancer.
Co-author Gregory Broderick, M.D., added, “The odds of surviving for long periods of time following surgery for prostate cancer are very high. That means a lot of men are living as prostate cancer survivors and we at Mayo Clinic are committed to understanding factors that affect their quality of life, not just their quantity of life.”
Anxiety can greatly impact a patient’s quality of life. As Dr. Parker explained, “Our study is the first to specifically show that those men with higher cancer-specific anxiety one year after surgery for prostate cancer are more likely to report lower levels of satisfaction with their sex life and higher levels of depressive symptoms.”
The researchers found that after one year of surgery, those with high anxiety were more likely to report low sexual satisfaction as well as depressive symptoms. “What is interesting from the sexual health standpoint is we observed that anxiety was not linked to poor erectile function per se but was linked to low levels of sexual satisfaction. If our results can be confirmed by other investigators, it would suggest that anxiety is not affecting some men’s ability to perform sexually but perhaps more their ability to enjoy their sex life,” Dr. Parker added.
The findings suggest that men should seek help for their impeding anxiety in order to improve health outcomes and overall well-being.
Study shows men with prostate cancer and depression have lower survival rates
The first study explored that men with prostate cancer have high depression and anxiety rates, so an additional study explored the effects of depression on prostate cancer and concluded that it lowers survival rates.
The study was led by researchers at UCLA who found that prostate cancer patients suffering with depression had lower survival rates as they become disinterested in their own general health and care. Furthermore, missed opportunities by doctors to educate their patients on the negative impact of depression can lead to worsened outcomes.
The study examined data from 41,275 men diagnosed with prostate cancer; 1,894 had a depressive disorder.
UCLA professor Dr. Jim Hu said, “Men with intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer and a recent diagnosis of depression are less likely to undergo definitive treatment and experience worse overall survival. The effect of depressive disorders on prostate cancer treatment and survivorship warrants further study, because both conditions are relatively common in men in the United States.”
Men with depression were less likely to seek out medical treatment, which could contribute to lower survival rates. Once again, this is a study that highlights the importance of managing mental health along with cancer diagnosis.
Common symptoms of depression in men with prostate cancer
Symptoms associated with depression in men with prostate cancer include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Feeling tired or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling guilty, helpless or worthless
- Loss of enjoyment
- Persistent sadness
- Feeling slow or sluggish
Different ways to treat depression in prostate cancer patients
It’s important to treat both depression and anxiety in men with prostate cancer to improve health outcomes for patients. There are different modes of treatment that can be used to offer relief to these patients and improve their overall health – mental and physical. Treatment options to treat depression and anxiety in prostate cancer patients include:
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Interpersonal therapy – this style of therapy helps people find new ways to get along with others and to resolve losses, changes and conflicts
- Antidepressant medication
- Combination therapy – mixing talk therapy and medications together
- Avoiding isolation – it can worsen feelings of anxiety and depression
- Exercising regularly – it has been shown to elevate mood
- Getting proper sleep – sleep plays a large role in mood
- Eating healthy – food can play a role in mood
- Limiting alcohol intake and not using alcohol or other substances as coping mechanisms
- Reducing stress and taking time to relax
- Asking for help whenever needed
- Joining a support group or speaking to other patients
- Confiding in friends and family
The first step to combating depression and anxiety with prostate cancer is being willing to open up and talk about how you feel. Finding someone you trust is a good place to begin and you can then move into a direction to seek out help.
Managing and treating depression and anxiety isn’t just beneficial for your mental well-being, but it can improve your health overall – especially when it comes to your prostate cancer treatment and recovery.
A common prostate cancer treatment has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The research was led by Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. The research reviewed electronic medical records of prostate cancer patients, and researchers found the risk of Alzheimer’s disease was nearly doubled in those who were treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Continue reading…
Men who partake in vigorous exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits can reduce their risk of prostate cancer by 68 percent, according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Many prostate cancers are not life threatening, but there are some aggressive types that can attack the bones and other organs, which can be fatal. Continue reading…