How do you react to hearing a bit of bad news? Are you shocked, indignant, or angry? Do these headlines make you want to strangle the bearer of bad news? And what if that bad news is a diagnosis of breast cancer?

Many people, upon learning their diagnosis, end up becoming depressed. And unfortunately, if you are single or have kids, then the probability of you succumbing to depression is even more likely.

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According to "Predictors of Depressive Symptoms Among Breast Cancer Patients During the First Year Post Diagnosis," a study from the University of Missouri (MU), there are certain factors that increase the likelihood of depression in a breast cancer patient—the status of the patient being one of them. Ann Bettencourt, Professor of Psychological Sciences at MU, believes that single women and women with children have the tendency to sink into depression the year following their treatment.

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"Many women receive strong support following their initial diagnoses of and treatment for cancer, but then the social support can wane,” she said. “Our findings suggest that both single women and mothers with children in the home may need additional support across the entire year following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment." The study also indicates that women with higher incomes are less likely to become depressed compared to those who are earning average salaries.

In a separate study entitled "Depression and Medication Adherence Among Breast Cancer Survivors: Bridging the Gap with the Theory of Planned Behavior," Bettencourt also emphasized the importance of addressing depression symptoms in breast cancer patients. According to the study author, depression can influence the patient's adherence to her medication regimens. "Deviating from the prescribed course of treatment may complicate patient outcomes and threaten prognosis."

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Bettencourt's studies issue a warning for many of us who have friends and family members diagnosed with breast cancer--we need to be more supportive. After all, if laughter is the best medicine, just imagine what depression could do.

Want to read up on depression? Check these out on FN:


For information on how you can support a loved one with cancer, try this:


(Photo by Frederic Henry via Flickr Creative Commons)

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