Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Depression treatment for women with breast cancer

Prachi Agarwala, MD,
Psychiatry Resident, PGY-V, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Michelle B. Riba, MD, MS, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Psychological distress among patients with breast cancer is common and is linked to worse clinical outcomes. Depressive and anxiety symptoms affect up to 40% of breast cancer patients, and depression is associated with a higher relative risk of mortality in individuals with breast cancer. Psychotropic medications and psychotherapy used to treat depression in patients without carcinoma also are appropriate and effective for breast cancer patients. However, some patients present distinct challenges to standard treatment. For example, growing evidence suggests that some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may reduce the effectiveness of tamoxifen, a chemotherapeutic agent. This article discusses challenges in diagnosing and treating depression in breast cancer patients and reviews evidence supporting appropriate psychiatric care.

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