Usage of anxiety and depression medication is almost twice as high amongst cancer survivors than the general United States population, Cancer Network reports.
This usage rate was published in a studying the Journal of Clinical Oncology and is based on research on medication usage between 2010 and 2013.
Nikki A. Hawkins, PhD and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that roughly 2.5 million cancer survivors were taking anxiety or depression medication during these years.
Hawkins and her colleagues wrote, “ The observed rate of medication use in cancer survivors likely reflects a combination of factors that could include survivors’ increased likelihood of having a usual source of care (and access to prescription medications) and an elevated number of physical and emotional burdens after cancer, which seem to follow many survivors for years after diagnosis.”
The researches used data from a questionnaire conducted by the National Health Interview Survey from 2010 to 2013. They used information provided by adults who had taken both the Sample Adult Core Questionnaire and the Adult Functioning and Disability Supplement. Within this group, researchers identified 3,184 cancer survivors and 44,997 adults with no history of cancer.
Adults who had survived cancer were almost twice as likely to report taking anxiety medication. The same was true for depression medication, and for taking both types of medication together.
Almost one in five cancer survivors in this sample was taking medication for anxiety, depression, or both.
“Interestingly, medication use did not vary significantly by time since cancer diagnosis, which is consistent with recent research that has shown elevated rates of depression and mental disorders for cancer survivors as much as 10 years after diagnosis,” the researchers wrote.
Survivors taking anxiety meds were more likely to be women, to have public insurance, or to have one or more non-cancer chronic conditions.
Demographics that displayed increased odds of taking depression medications were similar. They include women, non-Hispanic whites, widowed/divorced/or separated survivors, people with usual medical care, and survivors with non-cancer chronic health conditions.
In the study, the researchers wrote, “Although our estimates provide benchmarks for the rates of psychotropic medication use in survivors, they can also inform future research seeking to assess the connections among cancer, medication use, and mental health. Future work could determine whether survivors taking these medications are also receiving other forms of psychosocial treatment and support and whether cancer survivors are monitored adequately or screened over time to assess their changing psychosocial needs.”