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Stop the drugging: Cancer survivors twice as likely to be put on antidepressants


Cancer
(NaturalNews) A new study has revealed that cancer survivors are more likely to use antidepressants than individuals who have not previously battled the disease. The research found that approximately 1-in-5 cancer survivors will be prescribed an antidepressant drug, compared to almost 1-in-10 for the rest of the adult population.

The difference in anti-anxiety medication prescription was even higher. About 17 percent of cancer survivors take an anti-anxiety drug, compared to just 9 percent of the average adult population.

In other words, cancer survivors are almost twice as likely to be given an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication than the average adult. White females under the age of 65 who had survived cancer had the highest rate of antidepressant prescription, according to the study. Experts believe that uncertainties about the future and fear that the cancer could return are behind the disproportionate use of prescription drugs.

It is easy to understand why a cancer survivor may be depressed or anxious, even after overcoming their illness. Cancer is a tremendous disease; going through treatment can often be just as draining emotionally as it is physically. Undergoing conventional cancer treatments can result in a number of changes in the body that may be difficult for people to cope with. Furthermore, as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute points out, chemotherapy may actually change how the brain works – which may negatively impact a person's emotional state. The full effects chemo has on the brain are still being studied. Research shows that a large number of cancer patients exhibit memory and concentration problems following chemotherapy – it would not be that surprising to learn that chemotherapy may contribute to depression and anxiety after treatment, as well.

The study was led by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who examined surveys collected between 2010 and 2013. The survey findings provided them with data that included 3,184 people with a history of tumors and 44,997 adults with no previous malignancies.

The researchers estimated that about 2.5 million cancer survivors are taking psychiatric drugs.

Lead researcher Nikki Hawkins commented, "Survivors can have uncertainty about the future, worries about recurrence, altered self-image, concerns about relationships, financial hardships, unwanted physical changes, or new physical impairments."

The study's findings highlight the fact that cancer survivors need to pay just as much attention to their emotional health as they do their physical health. Experiencing depression during or after cancer treatment is not something to be ashamed of, but should the first course of treatment be more medication? Many doctors believe that antidepressant drugs could pose a risk if the cancer were to return, but there may also be other risks involved.

For example, after surviving breast cancer, many women are prescribed a drug known as tamoxifen to prevent the cancer from returning. About 30 percent of those women are also prescribed antidepressants. Not too long ago, a study led by Catherine Kelly of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center was published in the British Medical Journal. The team examined the survival rates of female breast cancer survivors over the age of 65 who took tamoxifen and an SSRI at the same time, and what they found was horrifying.

The researchers discovered that taking paroxetine (Paxil) while on tamoxifen was associated with an increased risk of death from breast cancer and death from any cause. Fluoxetine, or Prozac, is also thought to strongly effect tamoxifen metabolism, but not enough women were taking Prozac during the study period for the scientists to come to any formal conclusions.

What they did find, however, was that taking Paxil or paroxetine throughout the entire tamoxifen treatment period resulted in one additional death for every 6.9 women who were treated.

There are many natural, alternative therapies available to help treat depression without the use of pharmaceuticals. For example, hemp extracts may help to relieve stress naturally, without psychoactive effects. Counseling, keeping a journal, meditation and many other therapies can help you to overcome depression and anxiety without the use of drugs.

Sources:

DailyMail.co.uk

Dana-Farber.org

StopCancerFund.org


ADAA.org
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