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Depression rates are higher than expected for lung cancer patients. Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida have studied the role of social stigma in depression for lung cancer patients and found that depression can be magnified by a sense of social rejection, internalized shame and social isolation.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationship of perceived stigma to depressive symptomology in lung cancer patients,” said study co-author Paul Jacobsen, PhD. “Given its strong association with tobacco use, lung cancer is commonly viewed as a preventable disease. Consequently, patients may blame themselves for developing lung cancer and feel stigmatized. Even lung cancer patients who have never smoked often felt – accurately or inaccurately – that they were being blamed for their disease by friends, loved ones and even health care professionals.”
Researchers wanted to find out how much stigma contributed to their particular kind of depression.
“We found that 38% of those in the survey suffered from depression,” said Brian Gonzalez, MA of Moffitt’s Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior. “We found that greater levels of perceived stigma were related to greater levels of depression. Additionally, greater levels of depression were related to more avoidant coping, poorer social support and more dysfunctional attitudes.”
It is important to establish a link between stigma and depression since it contributes to increased depression of a very particular variety. This is similar to the links between disease, stigma and depression found with HIV patients. Therapy should focus on reducing shame and more programs need to work on public awareness of lung cancer inaccuracies.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Psycho-Oncology
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