Living with prostate carcinoma can add serious physical and emotional pressure.
Coping with the treatment, relationship status, and self-belief adds another layer of uncertainty and insecurity. That’s why many men with this particular illness develop depression.
In fact, it is such a common issue that around 1 in 6 men with prostate cancer experience clinical depression.
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are also widespread. Here, you can take a closer look at precisely what this kind of emotional state is doing to your body. You will also learn about the different feelings and thoughts people can develop, including the possible treatment options.
If you have trouble coping with prostate cancer, be sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible. You can get the proper treatment that can help you get through this challenging phase.
But, if you want to learn the ins and outs of this kind of depression, you’ve come to the right place. We selected only the most practical information that will answer all your queries.
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Prostate Cancer Depression After Surgery
Men who have their prostate cancer surgically removed can develop serious anxiety or depression just one year after their surgery. Increased anxiety levels are often associated with depression, sexual dysfunction, and poor sexual satisfaction.
Researchers are aware that countless male patients, who’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer and need surgery, often develop depression. Danish researchers advise that providing patients with anti-hormonal treatment right after getting radical prostatectomy makes them susceptible to depression.
Based on their clinical trial, depression in patients was a serious problem. They evaluated 5,570 medical records from men. Data shows that 773 of those evaluated received treatment for depression right after getting their radical prostatectomy surgery for prostate cancer.
It is believed that those treated with anti-hormonal medicine were 1.8 times more likely to experience depression compared to those who didn’t get any additional treatment.
The reason for that lies in the treatment’s impact on testosterone level. The radical prostatectomy hinders androgen production. It is associated with both a decrease and increase in testosterone levels. Low testosterone, however, can directly influence a man’s overall well-being.
It’s important to point out that men treated with prostatectomy had a much bigger risk of depression than those without prostate cancer. In the case of recurrent prostate cancer and additional hormonal treatment, the depression can get worse.
Androgen deprivation can have a direct impact on the mood centers of the brain. Therefore, men can experience loss of libido, changed body image, poor erectile function, and more. Experts believe it is essential to monitor men who receive androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for depression after treatment.
Many prostate cancers in their early stage require normal levels of primary sex hormone and an anabolic steroid in men. But, castration-resistant prostate cancer doesn’t. Also known as CRPC, this condition is defined by illness progression. In other words, the disease can progress despite receiving ADT.
How Common Is Depression in Prostate Cancer Patients?
After removing the prostate, men who get anti-hormonal treatment have 80% bigger odds of suffering from depression compared to those who don’t receive any treatment, study shows. Different research also proved similar results.
Scientists evaluated the prevalence of anxiety and depression in 4,494 patients with prostate carcinoma. They studied clinical anxiety and depression as a result of prostate cancer treatment such as surgery. The meta-analysis identified the prevalence rates in post-treatment, on-treatment, and pre-treatment depression.
Based on the results, pre-treatment had a 17.27% prevalence rate, 14.70% on-treatment, and 18.44% post-treatment depression. While for anxiety, the pre-treatment prevalence rate was at 27.04%, 15.09% for on-treatment, and 18.49% post-treatment anxiety.
These findings suggest that depression and anxiety are prevalent problems in every cancer patient-particularly those who undergo a prostatectomy, hormone, and radiation therapy.
What Causes the Depression and Anxiety?
Now, you might be asking yourself, what’s behind this high level of depression? The fact is, there is a range of different elements that are causing the problem. The first one being the qualities that define a man’s role in society.
Oncology experts estimate that men are projected with physical strength, control, toughness, and dominance. When a time comes for them to ask for help, they believe they are showing a sign of weakness.
Psychologists presume that men don’t want to appear weak or emotionally vulnerable. So, they end up concealing these emotions without asking for help or support. But, without that emotional and informational support, it becomes challenging to deal with prostate health.
The reason for that is relatively simple. Prostate carcinoma impacts the gastrointestinal, urinary, and reproductive systems. With these problems, men tend to feel ashamed and embarrassed in front of their romantic partners or family.
Due to their weakened state, side effects of surgery, and erectile problems, they display extremely high anxiety levels. Their bodies cannot function the way they want them to, which constantly makes them feel stressed.
The more embarrassing the problem, the bigger the odds of patients hiding their feelings and emotions. However, when someone refrains from expressing themselves and divulging in these emotions, the mental stressors only keep piling up.
That’s why it is crucial to monitor your psychological distress and consult with an expert if you experience any emotional pressures. You can recognize the mental distress if you pay attention to your typical thoughts and emotions before or after surgery, especially after prostatectomy.
Typical Thoughts and Emotions
When a man is diagnosed with prostate carcinoma, they can respond in different ways before and after their prostate cancer treatment. They can feel overwhelmed, stressed, shocked, or even in denial. These emotions are different for everyone and often change relatively quickly.
If you want to understand them, it is a good idea to know exactly how they look. Here is a list of the most known thoughts and emotions for a cancer patient.
Not every patient can accept the fact that they’ve developed a serious illness. Especially something that can get in the way of their sexual function. That’s why as a patient, it may be difficult to accept your current health state.
Anger, fear, or shock
Having one or all of these emotions after getting diagnosed creates a typical reaction.
Adverse effects, like erectile dysfunction, bowel or urinary problems, can make a person feel extremely worried.
Hormonal treatment can also affect the mood. People who undergo hormone therapy tend to feel irritated, angry, or tearful. The depressed mood can be physically and emotionally draining. For a prostate cancer survivor, this often happens after a prostatectomy.
Hormonal therapy can physically change the body. Because of the male hormone treatment, people can put on some extra weight, lose physical strength, and change their sex life. Whenever something drastic like that happens, people can feel a sense of loss or defeat.
The treatment and diagnosis can make a person feel less of a man. Since they may not be able to work, they can feel as if their role in the family has completely changed. It is like being forced to change your identity, while in fact, you are not ready to take that step.
Irritation and disappointment
The way you have mapped out your life utterly changes. It may alter the way you view yourself, your plans, and your future goals.
Whenever a patient has to decide which cancer treatment to take, they can feel stressed.
Feeling anxious is normal. People experience anxiety when they have to get prostate cancer diagnosis or PCA treatment. Whereas booking a prostate surgery right after getting diagnosed can feel a lot more overwhelming. Even after they get the treatment, men are still anxious about their future. They don’t know whether their body will be able to fully recover or how that will impact their sex life.
Feeling isolated and alone
Loneliness and isolation are also commonly registered in prostate cancer patients. Many men believe they can’t confide in anyone, which creates additional pressure.
Emotions and thoughts such as these are absolutely natural. This cancer can be difficult to deal with. In some cases, the feelings can linger. While in others, they will slowly dissipate with time. The key to managing them is with proper coping and support. But, first, you need to recognize the signs.
Depression – How to Spot the Signs
As previously mentioned, individuals with prostate cancer can develop depression after or before treatment. The severity of the depressive symptoms will vary. However, treatment is vital for a healthy recovery.
Although most prostate carcinomas remain confined in the prostate gland (known as localized prostate cancer), some cancer cells can spread to nearby tissues or organs. Both cancer and the treatment can cause urinary incontinence. The incontinence will vary based on the type of cancer and severity of the malignancy.
The first time people get a prostate cancer diagnosis is usually the hardest part of dealing with cancer. The same thing can be said for any other form of cancer, like breast cancer. The moment people get the prostate cancer screening results, it can turn their world upside down.
Not to even mention the watchful waiting and active surveillance. All that time, analyzing the illness before doing a prostate cancer surgery only adds more fuel to the fire. And once patients start developing erectile dysfunction post prostate cancer surgery, depression really takes hold.
Affected individuals start to lose interest in the things they previously found enjoyable. Some can have mood swings, and others can develop extreme feelings of hopelessness. In time, depression may start to affect their daily life. As a result, they can feel exhausted, have trouble sleeping, or poor appetite. It’s not uncommon to become more irritable and angrier than before.
If you recognize this emotional instability and pressure, and it doesn’t subside in a couple of weeks, talk to your doctor. Also, try any relaxing physical activity, such as meditation and yoga. Both of these options can help ease the stress and deal with depression.
Considering the Future
It is natural for men to feel upset about their future. When they think about their goals and achievements in life, needing cancer treatment creates significant emotional pressure. Especially if they are dealing with advanced prostate cancer.
Those who struggle with advanced carcinoma need urgent treatment. According to doctors from Mayo Clinic, anxiety is much higher in men with aggressive prostate carcinoma forms. This treatment can take months or even years.
All the waiting and emergency visits can make anyone feel worried or upset. They will think about cancer every day. They obsess over their health and prostate state, making them unable to enjoy their daily life.
For some individuals, creating new life plans can help them prepare for the future. It can give them a sense of reassurance and hope. That can be achieved with a proper coping strategy and support.
Coping and Support
Coping with prostate cancer can be a difficult process. Clinicians create a comfortable, private, and suitable environment where men get to any of their concerns. This is the kind of professional support that can be a successful depression treatment.
The most practical support options include:
- Psychological treatment
- Medical treatment
- Other forms of support
Some individuals, however, prefer to take matters into their own hands. In cases such as these, it is crucial to give your body time to adapt to the new health state. Don’t create unattainable goals and aspirations. This will only form additional pressure. What you can do is focus on the positives instead.
You can create your coping strategy and devise a new tackling opportunity. By setting up a new plan for their future, they can be less afraid or worried about what is to come. Of course, everyone can have good and bad days. The best way to cope with the illness is to make the most of those positive days while you get through the tough times.
Support therapies, also known as psychological treatment, are the go-to choice for treating depression. These treatment groups boost your coping skills, alter your thinking pattern, and show you how to overcome conflict and stress.
With psychological treatment, men get to support their recovery and learn how to change and identify their unhealthy behavior. Multiple options can help with depression from prostate cancer, such as:
- Cognitive behavior therapy – this treatment recognizes and identifies the way people think and act. Their behavior and cognition are what make them feel depressed. By managing these problems, people can treat their depression.
- Interpersonal therapy – This treatment’s primary goal is to focus on the issues in a personal relationship. As well as learning suitable skills that will help deal with these issues. When someone suffers from depression, these problems could be contributing to mental pressure.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy – With mindfulness meditation, people learn how to be present at the moment. They learn how to experience and embrace both their unpleasant and pleasant emotions without trying to change them.
Options such as these are the first step to a healthy recovery. They allow men to identify their feelings and psychological issues. That way, they will have a much easier time understanding depression and anxiety.
Medical treatment relies on antidepressant medication. It is a mix of medication and psychotherapy. When a person is suffering from extreme or moderate depression, that’s where medical treatment becomes necessary.
Although the drugs can’t cure mental instability, they can restore proper brain function and help people lead more productive lives.
Depending on the type of psychological distress, men can also receive a combination of antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants. But, only a doctor can suggest the best form of treatment that’s tailored to your needs.
In most cases, they might have to take:
Each medicine is designed to tackle a unique problem. Some are meant to ease the mood swings, while others can mitigate the extreme depression and anxiety. However, all of these drugs are known to be accompanied by possible side effects.
That’s why it is crucial to consult with a doctor before you add them to your daily schedule. The doctor will make sure you are taking the correct medication and monitor your current health state. They may reduce, increase, or discontinue the doses depending on how your body is reacting to the medication.
Other Forms of Support
If left unmanaged, anxiety and depression can last for weeks, months, to even years. Luckily, you can use various options to improve your mental health. According to experts, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, physical activity, and communication can help.
A balanced diet paired with physical activity can help restore balance. Since you will be supplying the system with plenty of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, the organs will be in excellent shape.
According to Harvard Health, diet is a key component for good mental health. A dietary pattern with plenty of fish, veggies, fruits, whole grain, low-fat products, and antioxidants can lessen the risk of depression-even the one caused by prostate cancer.
Studies show that diets low in animal and red meat products but high in plant-based meals could slow down prostate cancer progression. They could also decrease tumor growth. With proper nutrition, you might even reduce the recurrence of the illness.
But, to eat healthily, you would need to consume nutritious foods in moderation. Remember, the quality of the food matters more than the quantity. Thus, supplying the system with a healthy dose of nutrients while minimizing the processed meats, animal fats, and sugars can go a long way.
Experts believe it’s a good idea to cut back on caffeine. Since drinking too much of it regularly can make a person anxious, stressed, and jittery, avoiding the drink can help. It can relax the mind and allow the body to calm down.
Effective communication is also helpful. It is a practical strategy for building therapeutic relationships and rapport. Even when a person isn’t extremely depressed, being able to express themselves can ease the pressure. This is something you need when you want to get rid of any mental burden.
Another practical option is to try natural remedies. Options like chamomile tea and supplements can ease the depression and calm the anxiety. One study showed that people who drank 500 mg of chamomile supplements 3 times a day managed to reduce their anxiety from severe to moderate.
You can also try aromatherapy oils. These, as well, could be effective in calming the anxiety but without the side effects. The most used oils are chamomile, neroli, and lavender. Meditation is another useful tactic.
Not only can it relax the body, but it can also work with your mind. Those who try to meditate regularly report less stress and anxiety. This is something the body needs when it’s going through a rough patch. So, if you want something natural that may come in handy, these options do hit the spot.
Never underestimate your depression after getting diagnosed with prostate cancer or receiving surgery. Even if cancer gets managed and treated on-time, people still need to pay attention to their mental state. All the studies listed here indicate that when someone has such a prostate health condition, they are prone to experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression. Eventually, these mental stressors can affect their quality of life.
Therefore, professional medical support, counseling, and effective coping strategies can come in handy for individuals with prostate cancer. They can help address these mental issues and ease the psychological burdens. So, if you or anyone in your family is suffering from depression and anxiety due to their prostate cancer health or looming surgery, be sure to contact a mental health expert. With some effort and time, you can get your emotional state back on track.
Find out 10 Tips For Living with Prostate Cancer.