Differences in patterns of depression after treatment for breast cancer

Psychooncology. 2006 May;15(5):398-406. doi: 10.1002/pon.962.


Depression is a significant problem for some breast cancer survivors after the end of treatment. This study assessed depression using the CES-D for 84 breast cancer patients at the conclusion of radiation treatment, and at 3 and 6 months post-treatment. Based on the pattern of CES-D scores, patients were divided into five groups: (1) Stay Depressed (scores above clinical cutoff for depression at all timepoints); (2) Recover (above threshold at baseline, but below at follow-up); (3) Become Depressed (below threshold at baseline, but above at follow-up); (4) Never Depressed (below threshold at all times); and (5) Vacillate (none of the above patterns). This study examined the relationships between depression groups and a variety of medical, demographic, and psychological measures, including anxiety and quality of life (QOL). Number of children at home significantly distinguished the groups, with the Become Depressed group having more children and the Vacillate group having fewer children. Anxiety levels were different among the groups, with Recover and Never Depressed groups having consistently lower anxiety scores. QOL scores also distinguished the groups in that Never Depressed patients demonstrated better QOL than all other groups. The findings have implications for understanding resilience in cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Missouri / epidemiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Washington / epidemiology