COVID-19 Exacerbates Depression Rates in Elderly Cancer Patients: Study Unveils Disturbing Findings

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The Risk of Depression During the Pandemic

New-Onset and Recurrent Depression Higher Among Certain Groups

The risk of both new-onset and recurrent depression was higher among specific groups of individuals during the pandemic. These factors include:

  • Women and those not active in church or religious activities
  • Individuals who lost income during the pandemic
  • Those who became ill or had a loved one become ill or die during the pandemic

Patients who reported feeling isolated and those without enough income to meet their basic needs were also found to be at elevated risk of recurrent depression.

Gender and Depression

It was discovered that women were 50% more likely than men to experience new-onset depression. Coauthor Margaret de Groh, PhD, of the Public Health Agency of Canada, explained that “women are more likely to take on time-consuming caretaking roles and household labor,” in a University of Toronto press release.

Challenges for Older Cancer Patients

Older cancer patients have the added stress of being particularly vulnerable to severe COVID-19. Coauthor Andie MacNeil, MSW, of the University of Toronto, highlighted the impact of strict adherence to lockdowns on these individuals. She stated that while lockdowns were necessary to minimize the risk of infection, they often meant forgoing social support, which is crucial for strength during cancer treatment and recovery.

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