Study: Breast Cancer Patients with Children Have Higher Depression Risk

Mothers and single women undergoing treatment for breast cancer are more likely to experience depression in the months following treatment than patients with spouses or without kids, a new study has found.

The study, which was published in the journal Psychology & Health, measured depression using a questionnaire that renders a depression "score." Though all breast cancer patients experienced some degree of psychological distress, women who were single, had children at home, or lived in low-income families had the highest risk of suffering from ongoing depression after treatment.

One explanation for differences in depression levels may have to do with the amount of emotional and practical support women receive at the time of diagnosis and during and after treatment. It appears that the women who do best are those with husbands or partners, perhaps because they can offer women continuing emotional and practical support. Women with breast cancer who have children at home may face more logistical challenges coping with treatment schedules and side effects and juggling the daily responsibilities of child-rearing, compared with similar women who don't have children at home.

Image: Sad mother and daughter via Shutterstock.

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