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The Health Risks of Depression in Cancer Caregivers

August 28, 2017

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it can be stressful and challenging for the entire family.

Family members not only have to deal with all the possibilities related to the diagnosis, but in many cases they also must act as caregivers.

Now a recent study indicates that caregivers rel="noopener noreferrer" who may already have depression are at greater risk for declines in physical health after a loved rel="noopener noreferrer" one’s cancer diagnosis.

In the study, published in the journal Cancer, researchers examined the physical health of caregivers two to eight years after their family member’s diagnosis. The average age of caregivers included in the study was around 53 years old.

Using self-reported data and a 12-item American Cancer Society survey that assessed physical health, researchers reviewed information about caregivers’ age, sex, income, education, employment status and relationship to the patient, the severity of the patient’s diagnosis, and factors such as caregiving stress and esteem, social support and symptoms of depression. They then assessed changes in these indicators over time.

Researchers found caregivers had slightly better health than the national average two years after their loved one’s diagnosis. However, eight years after the diagnosis, they had a small, but noticeable decline in physical health. Those who already dealt with depression before their family member’s diagnosis had even worse health declines later on.

The study’s findings indicate we need to provide even more support and services to caregivers and to identify early on those who may be at risk for depression so they can get timely treatment.

There are many local support groups and therapists all over the country who already do this work, but part of the solution rel="noopener noreferrer" may be ensuring caregivers know these resources are available to them. The Cancer Support Community at UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health offers resources for both patients and family members, including free counseling that helps the entire family adjust to the new diagnosis, cope with depression and deal with family and relationship challenges related to a cancer diagnosis.

Anyone who has ever cared for a loved one with cancer understands that the focus is often on getting their family member back to good health. That is the main priority, but in the process it’s critical for caregivers not to ignore their own health. During this critical time, a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer needs all the support he or she can get, so it’s just as important that caregivers prioritize their health for the often difficult road ahead. We can identify those who are at greater risk for depression or worse physical health with basic screening and questionnaires, and then connect both caregivers and patients to the mental health services they may need. 

Cancer is a battle unlike any other for many families, but while we try to address the disease’s physical effects, we also need to pay attention to the emotional and mental impact it has on patients and caregivers alike. Being more vigilant about this could benefit more patients and their families and increase support for this group as they deal with a challenging diagnosis. 

UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health’s Patient and Family Counseling Department employs state licensed and masters-level counselors and provides several resources for patients and families. To rel="noopener noreferrer" learn more or to schedule an appointment with a counselor, please call 321.841.1869 or visit:

Are you interested in learning more about our patient and family counseling?

The Patient and Family Counseling Department provides educational programs, support groups, and counseling to assist our patients and families in their journey through illness. All of our counselors are state licensed and masters-prepared with many years experience in providing support and counseling to our patients and their families from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.

Learn More Here

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Do Adults Need Booster Shots?

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Why All Pregnant Women Should Get a Flu Shot

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‘Obesity Genes’ Don’t Affect Weight Loss

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New Procedure May Reduce Lifetime Stroke Risk in A-Fib Patients

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Nearly 1 in 4 Americans Expected to Have Hearing Loss by 2060

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Should Partners Be Given STD Prescriptions, Too?

Aug 23, 2017

How Drug Resistance Could Affect the Prevalence of HIV/AIDS

Dec 01, 2017

The New Year’s Resolution Solution: Take It One Step at A Time

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Suicide Rates Have Increased Across the Country, Especially in Rural Communities

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Adam’s Story: “Space-Aged Machine” Helps Patient Overcome Heart Condition

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How Stress May Impact Fertility

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Why Our Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval Means Better Care for You

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Want to Protect Yourself from Germs? Avoid the ATM

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You May Have Had a Heart Attack Without Realizing It

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How Much Exercise Do You Need to Stay Healthy?

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Ladies: It’s Time to Stop Crossing Your Legs

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Why Losing Weight is Harder Than You Think

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Birth Control for Men Could Soon Be on the Market

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Valentine’s Got You Down? It Could Be Male Menopause

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Want to Know If You’ve Gained Weight? All You Need is a Piece of String

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Salt & Sodium: The Real Danger

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Telemedicine in Critical Care: the Doctor is Always In

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Children Who Survive Congenital Heart Defects May Have Additional Challenges

Mar 01, 2018

How Heat Can Trigger Asthma Symptoms

Sep 06, 2017

4 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Take Prescription Pain Medication

Mar 28, 2017

Have a Headache? Here’s When You Should See a Doctor

Jun 22, 2017

Getting Enough Sleep Can Reduce Sick Days

Nov 28, 2014

How to Reduce Your Risk of Getting the Zika Virus

Aug 16, 2016

The Dangers of Obesity & Pregnancy

Feb 06, 2016

8 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy When You Work a 9-to-5

May 09, 2017

Unexpected Uses of Hospice Care

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Your Lymphedema Surgery Questions Answered

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How Your Medicine Can Increase Your Skin’s Sensitivity to the Sun

Jan 22, 2018

A Dietitian's Thanksgiving

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The Danger of Biggest Loser Diets

Aug 20, 2016

Intimacy Challenges: Coping with Erectile Dysfunction

Oct 08, 2016

Poor Diet Tied to Half of U.S. Deaths From Heart Disease

May 16, 2017

How Mindfulness Meditation Helps Fight Insomnia

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How to Prepare for a Specialist Visit

Jun 29, 2017

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Jan 27, 2017

What You Need to Know About Hernias, Part I

Jan 31, 2017

New Study Shows That Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Endometriosis

Oct 09, 2017

Checking Your Cholesterol - Is it Really Necessary?

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Researchers Discover Possible Vaccine to Treat Gonorrhea

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Changing Medicine May Not Help With Depression

Oct 28, 2017

Need Help Making a Patient’s Experience Better? Just Dial 4343!

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Preventing Burns from Gasoline Fires

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The Next Step in Recovery After a Heart Attack: Cardiac Rehab

Feb 01, 2018

Are you getting enough rest? The dangers of sleep deprivation

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Shedding Light on Pulmonary Hypertension and Depression—And What to Do About It

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Healthy New Year’s Resolutions: Why Breakfast Should Be #1 on Your List

Dec 31, 2014

The Feeding Tube Diet: A Bad Idea for Weight Loss

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Fewer People are Dying of Stroke, but More People are at Risk

Jan 04, 2018

Is Routine Herpes Screening Necessary?

Sep 22, 2016

Study: College Students Think ADHD Medications Can Boost Their Grades

Jan 10, 2018

Is It Harmful to Know Too Much About Your DNA?

Feb 21, 2018

A Steady Heart: One Man’s Journey from AFib to a Regular Heartbeat

Feb 23, 2015

5 Carbs That Help with Weight Loss

Jun 13, 2015

Sexual Supplements: The Hidden Dangers

Oct 19, 2015

Understanding Binge Eating Disorders

Oct 09, 2015

Why Flip-Flops Are a No-No for Your Feet

May 30, 2015

How an Organ Is Deemed Recoverable for Donation

Aug 19, 2015

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Baby Poop…Really!

Jan 31, 2018

7 Healthy Ways to Diffuse Stress

Oct 15, 2016

Organic, cage-free, grass-fed, all natural... What's the difference?

Feb 26, 2013

Adjusting to Climate Changes While Traveling

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When Doctors and Surrogates Disagree on Time Left

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Do You Know What Healthy Food Is?

Dec 15, 2016

Family-Friendly Physical Activities That Can Keep You Healthy

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Does Consuming Your Own Placenta After Childbirth Deliver the Benefits Some Celebrities Claim?

Jan 07, 2014

High Heels: Is Fashion Worth the Risk?

Aug 19, 2014

Your Top 5 Cholesterol Questions Answered

Feb 18, 2016

Understanding the Causes of Obesity

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The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

Dec 19, 2017

New Minimally Invasive Procedure Gives Heart Patients More Options

Feb 23, 2017

What causes absent or irregular periods? Dr. Greves explains possible diagnosis and treatment options

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Why We Need to Pay More Attention to Concussions in Female Athletes

Aug 15, 2015

Babies After 35: What You Need to Know

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Travel Triad: 3 Tips for Staying Healthy While Abroad

Jul 31, 2015

Suffering from IBS? You Also Should Get Checked for Endometriosis

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When Should I Begin to Consider Freezing My Eggs?

Apr 14, 2017

What You Know About Urinary Incontinence: Fact or Fiction?

Jul 25, 2017

Are you getting fooled by food labels? Learn what those percentages are telling you.

Nov 26, 2012

Emergency Contraception: What Every Parent of a Teenager Should Know

Nov 29, 2012

Why You Should Kick Energy Drinks to the Curb

Aug 22, 2014

10 Common Myths About Measles—and the Real Facts

Mar 05, 2015

Soccer ACL Injuries: Why Prevention is the Best Treatment

Mar 30, 2015

Setting SMART Goals Can Help You Achieve Your Biggest Challenges

Jun 15, 2017

Don’t Forget About Fiber

Sep 30, 2017

Two of the Most Prevalent Injuries Facing Gymnasts

Aug 02, 2012

Heart Palpitations or Atrial Fibrillation? How to Tell the Difference

Feb 25, 2016

New Study Reveals What Causes Most Urinary Tract Infections

Mar 05, 2016

CDC: Antibiotics for Gonorrhea Losing Their Effectiveness

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Spring Allergy Alert

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What is preterm birth? Who is at risk, and how can it be prevented?

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New Non-Surgical Weight Loss Procedure Approved by the FDA

Oct 13, 2015

Why You May Not Need Surgery for Appendicitis

Jul 22, 2015

When To Go To An Athletic Trainer For An Injury

Mar 13, 2018

New CDC Guidelines for Zika: What You Should Know

Aug 09, 2016

Understanding Golf Injuries in Professional and Amateur Athletes

Mar 16, 2017

As Florida Wildfires Rage, the Dangers of Smoke Inhalation Increase

Apr 13, 2017

More Exercise & Better Diet: How to Cut Your Heart Disease Risk

Apr 28, 2017

Learning a Lifesaving Skill: How the ISR Program Teaches Infants and Children How to Swim

Jul 18, 2017

I’m an Adult, Can I Still Have Asthma?

Mar 24, 2016

Why Aerobic and Muscle Strengthening Activities Should be Part of Your Exercise Routine

Oct 30, 2017

My Muscle Hurts. Should I Go to the Doctor?

Dec 02, 2017

How Sugar Can Harm Your Liver

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Getting Ready for Hurricane Season

Mar 09, 2018

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Feb 26, 2014

Protect your heart! Proactive lifestyle changes you can make now that can save your life later

Apr 21, 2014

Ryan's Story: Wakeboarder defies the odds to get back on the water

Jun 24, 2014

What is trigeminal neuralgia? How is it treated?

Aug 27, 2013

8 Vasectomy Reversal Questions Answered

Oct 16, 2014

Are You at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Oct 03, 2013

Stop the Bleed Initiative: How You Can Help in an Emergency Situation

Dec 21, 2017

What You Need to Know about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Dec 31, 2017

Choosing the Right Over-the-Counter Medication

Jan 07, 2016

Buying Seasonal and Local Produce

Jan 18, 2017

Natalie Cole’s Death Highlights the Danger of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Jan 16, 2016

Do Weight Loss Clinics Work?

Nov 04, 2017

Why It’s Never Too Late to Change Your Diet

Aug 29, 2017

How to Transition to a Vegan Diet

Aug 21, 2015

5 ways to Reduce Stress in 10 minutes or Less

Apr 24, 2015

Preventing Kidney Stones: It’s All About Your Diet

Apr 27, 2015

I Wake Up at Night to Urinate—Is That Normal?

Jan 10, 2015

Think Twice About Throwing Away that Fruit Peel

Jan 28, 2015

New Treatment Offers Hope for Patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease

Mar 26, 2015

Minimizing Weight Gain After Bariatric Surgery

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Four Ways to Prepare for a Race

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Weight Gain After Bariatric Surgery

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The Five Worst Foods to Pack in Your Kid’s School Lunch

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