Monday November 19, 2018

Aggressive Treatment Of Prostate Cancer May Also Lead To Usage Of Anti-Depressants: Study

Sexual dysfunction is a common adverse effect of antidepressants

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Anti-depressants, prostate cancer
The antidepressant drug Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, is pictured. VOA
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Men with prostate cancer who get surgery or radiation are also more likely start taking antidepressants than their counterparts who don’t get aggressive treatment, a recent study suggests.

Many men with early-stage prostate cancer may not need treatment right away, or ever, because these tumors often don’t grow fast enough to cause symptoms or prove fatal. In the absence of symptoms or tests that suggest tumors are growing quickly, doctors may advise men to put off immediate treatments like surgery or radiation and instead get regular screenings to reassess whether the cancer is dangerous enough to warrant
intervention.

For the current study, researchers examined data on men with early-stage prostate cancer, including 4,952 people who had surgery, 4,994 who got radiation and 2,136 who opted instead for surveillance, or “watchful waiting.” In the year before their cancer diagnosis, 7.7 percent of the men were prescribed antidepressants, and this climbed to 10.5 percent in the first year after diagnosis.

 

Cancer, Prostate cancer
British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, is shown the advanced radiotherapy system during a visit to announce new funding and research into prostate cancer, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. VOA

 

Compared to a control group of men in the general population without a prostate cancer diagnosis, men with prostate cancer were 49 percent more likely to be taking antidepressants five years after surgery and 33 percent more likely to take antidepressants five years after radiation treatment, the study found.

But watchful waiting wasn’t linked to any increase in the odds of men taking antidepressants.

“Prostate cancer patients often fit the demographic profile (white, older age, and male) of someone at risk for depression,” said senior study author Dr. Robert Nam of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

“Once they receive treatment for prostate cancer, whether that is surgery or radiation, they may experience treatment-related side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, incontinence, and bowel dysfunction, which can significantly
worsen quality of life,” Nam said by email.

Cancer, Prostate cancer
Prostate Cancer Blood Test

Roughly half of men diagnosed with prostate cancer receive treatment known as androgen deprivation therapy, which suppresses production of the male sex hormone testosterone and contributes to mood disorders, Nam added.

Men in the study who received surveillance tended to be older and were more likely to have multiple chronic health problems than the patients who got surgery or radiation.

Limiting factors

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how different approaches to prostate cancer treatment might directly impact mental health. Another limitation is the potential for factors not measured in the study to have influenced both the treatment decisions men made and their mental health, researchers note in European Urology.

A separate study in the same journal, however, looked at trends in management of erectile function after prostate cancer surgery and offered fresh evidence that many men may be missing out on interventions that could improve their sexual health and quality of life.

Prostate cancer
FILE – A patient receives chemotherapy treatment. VOA

The study examined data on 2,364 patients who had prostate cancer surgery at one U.S. academic medical center between 2008 and 2015.

Researchers didn’t find any meaningful changes in the proportion of men who had erectile dysfunction up to two years after surgery, despite advances in surgical care and postoperative penile rehabilitation during the study period.
This study also wasn’t a controlled experiment, and it’s possible that results from a single medical center might not reflect outcomes for men who got prostate cancer treatment elsewhere.

The study also didn’t examine how any use of antidepressants might have played a role in men’s sexual health after prostate cancer surgery.

Also Read: Pain After Delivery Linked To Postpartum Depression

“Sexual dysfunction is a common adverse effect of antidepressants,” Nam said.

“Identifying the cause of the sexual dysfunction can be complicated as these symptoms are also associated with depression and can be improved once the patient’s depression is treated,” Nam added. “A healthy lifestyle, consisting of a well-balanced diet and exercise, is an important way to promote good sexual function, regardless of underlying medical
conditions.” (VOA)

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Loneliness And Depression Can Be Linked to Social Media: Study

It is unclear if the depressing effects of social media will cross generational lines to older or younger people

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This photo taken March 22, 2018, shows apps for WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks on a smartphone. VOA

University of Pennsylvania researchers say that for the first time they have linked social media use to increases in depression and loneliness.

The idea that social media is anything but social when it comes to mental health has been talked about for years, but not many studies have managed to actually link the two.

To do that, Penn researchers, led by psychologist Melissa Hunt, designed a study that focused on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

The results were published in the November issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Social media. Offensive Speech
An iPhone with Twitter, Facebook and other apps, May 21, 2013. U.S. internet companies are taking a harder look at their policies that have promoted free expression around the world.. VOA

How study worked

The study was conducted with 143 participants, who before they began, completed a mood survey and sent along photos of their battery screens, showing how often they were using their phones to access social media.

“We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid,” Hunt said. That term, ecologically valid, means that the research attempts to mimic real life.

The study divided the participants into two groups: The first group was allowed to maintain their normal social media habits. The other, the control group, was restricted to 10 minutes per day on each of the three platforms: Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

The restrictions were put in place for three weeks and then the participants returned and were tested for outcomes such as fear of missing out (FOMO), anxiety, depression and loneliness.

Social Media
Chiara Valenzano, right, photographs her food as she has lunch with her friend Giulia Terranova at the ‘This is not a Sushi bar’ restaurant, in Milan, Italy, Oct. 16, 2018. At the restaurant, payment can be made according to the number of Instagram followers one has. VOA

Results of study

The results showed a very clear link between social media use and increased levels of depression and loneliness.

“Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness,” Hunt said. “These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”

She calls her findings the “grand irony” of social media.

What is it about social media that’s just so depressing?

Hunt says that it’s two major things. The first is that social media invites what Hunt calls “downward social comparison.” When you’re online, it can sometimes seem that “everyone else is cooler and having more fun and included in more things and you’re left out,” she said. And that’s just generally demoralizing.

Social Media
The study was conducted with 143 participants, who before they began, completed a mood survey Pixabay

The second factor is a bit more nuanced.

“Time is a zero-sum game,” Hunt told VOA. “Every minute you spend online is a minute you are not doing your work or not meeting a friend for dinner or having a deep conversation with your roommate.”

And these real life activities are the ones that can bolster self-esteem and self worth, Hunt said.

What to learn

So what’s the takeaway?

social media
A girl uses her mobile phone in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 5, 2017. A researcher in Britain says her findings suggest young girls who are more active on social media have lower levels of well-being in their teens. VOA

People are on their devices, and that’s not going to change, she said. But as in life, a bit of moderation goes a long way.

“In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life,” she added.

Also Read: Childhood Violence May Spur Puberty, Depression: Study

Hunt pointed out a few caveats to the study. First, it was done exclusively with 18- to 22-year-olds, and it is unclear if the depressing effects of social media will cross generational lines to older or younger people, Hunt said. But she expects her results should generalize at least for people through the age of 30.

Hunt says she is now beginning a study to gauge the emotional impact of dating apps. (VOA)