Course of depression, mental health service utilization and treatment preferences in women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


General hospital psychiatry (2013)


2013, Clinical Research Division, May 2013


OBJECTIVE: This prospective study aimed to estimate the prevalence and course of depression during chemotherapy in women with Stage I-III breast cancer, identify potential risk factors for depression and determine which treatments for depression were being used and which were most preferred. METHOD: Thirty-two women were followed over consecutive chemotherapy infusions, with 289 assessments conducted altogether (mean, 9.0 assessments/subject). Current depression, anxiety, physical symptoms and mental health service use were recorded during each assessment. A linear mixed effects model was used to identify factors associated with depression. Patients also ranked depression treatment preferences. We referred patients with more severe depression for treatment. RESULTS: Clinically significant depression was identified in 37.5% of patients. Depression severity tended to peak at 12-14 weeks and 32 or more weeks of chemotherapy. Depression severity was associated with anxiety severity, physical symptom burden, non-White race, receiving one's first chemotherapy regimen, Adriamycin-Cytoxan chemotherapy and chemotherapy duration. Most (65.5%) patients preferred evidence-based treatments for depression, and 66.7% of depressed patients were using such treatments. CONCLUSIONS: Depression is common in women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. Most patients prefer evidence-based depression treatments. We recommend regular screening for depression during chemotherapy to ensure adequate detection and patient-centered treatment.