Medical illnesses can be triggers for depression in some people, and understandably so. Having to deal with the stress of chronic illness can put a big strain on mental health, as well as physical health.
Research has found however, that three quarters of cancer patients who are suffering with depression are not being treated for it, and those that are, are only seeing limited reductions in depression levels.
The Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh have not only highlighted the fact that cancer patients are suffering a poor quality of life a as result of clinical depression going untreated, but also developed a new medical programme that, in medical trials, has proven to be more effective than current depression treatments.
Published in the journal The Lancet, the Depression Care for People with Cancer (DCPC) programme was developed by a team lead by Professor of Psychological Medicine, Michael Sharpe.
The researchers found that those on the DCPC programme saw a 50% reduction in the severity of their depression, as opposed to a 17% reduction seen in those on the currently available courses.
By combining the depression alleviation programme with medical treatments, integrating the two courses, and by concentrating on improving quality of life over prolonging life, the scientists significantly reduced the effects of depression in patients.
Furthermore, as high depression levels are associated with not sticking to treatments and a slightly lowered mortality rate, the depression treatment scheme may help to improve chances of survival.
Possibly due to mental health being regarded differently to physical health, there has not been a crossover in treatment of the two. Now the researchers have proved that battling the two together can be more effective for both.