Depression and Anxiety over Time
This report from the UK looked at depression and anxiety over the course of five years for women who received radiation therapy for early breast cancer. It is reassuring in that it found that women with normal scores at the beginning did not go on to develop intense depression or anxiety. On the other hand, it is somewhat discouraging in the report that women who were initially distressed were likely to become more so over the years. My interpretation is that, after the initial reaction of normal and appropriate upset to the diagnosis, most women gradually return to their baseline of emotional health and mood. This, of course, assumes continuing good health because certainly a breast cancer recurrence or other health crisis would impact mood.
Here is a summary of the results and then a link if you want to read more:
35% reported clinically relevant levels of anxiety and/or depression pre-RT (radiation therapy)
No significant change in proportions over time
75% women with high baseline anxiety recorded further high scores over time whilst one in six had high scores at every follow-up point.
Depression showed similar pattern with lower frequencies at all time points
Very few with initial normal scores developed clinically relevant anxiety or depression over time
Lower educational level predicted worse anxiety and depression over time; younger age predicted worse anxiety and chemotherapy predicted worse depression
Scores in borderline or case range for anxiety or depression at baseline were both significantly associated with worse mood states over 5 years