Cancer Patients: The Effects of Religion on Depression Levels

A study by Kavak Budak and colleagues (2021) sought to determine the effect of religious beliefs and spirituality in general on depression and hopelessness in cancer patients at an advanced stage.

Advertisement The prevalence of cancer is increasing day by day; in 2012, a total of 14.1 million new cancer cases were recorded and 8.2 million people died. The most diagnosed cancers in the world are those of the lung (13.0%), breast (11.9%) and colon (9.7%). If cancer incidence continues to increase at this rate, 19.3 million new cases are projected to occur annually in 2025 (Globocan, 2012).

The psychological consequences in cancer patients

Cancer can also cause severe mental problems (Wilson et al., 2007). Jadoon and colleagues (2010), for example, report that cancer patients experience distress that requires psychiatric treatment and depression is the most common ailment. Depression, along with the lack of hope, can lead to many problems in cancer patients, such as suicide, social isolation and loneliness, seriously compromising their quality of life. For this reason, it is essential to prevent psychological problems in cancer patients (Massie, 2004).

The literature has shown us that diseases increase the spiritual needs of individuals, as well as their physical, mental and social needs (Weis and Boehncke, 2011). The patient needs more spiritual support in cases that require a long process of treatment and healing and that compromise the quality of life, such as in the case of cancer. In previous studies (Koenig, 2004; Singer et al., 2010) it has been found that spirituality increases positive experiences, hopes and the ability to find meaning in illness.

In light of the promising results, a study by Kavak Budak and colleagues (2021) sought to determine the effect of religious belief and spirituality in general on depression and hopelessness in cancer patients at an advanced stage.

The results obtained demonstrate a statistically significant difference between age and depression in moles cancer patients who participated in the study: with increasing age the level of depression for these patients increased. One might think that the negative views of elderly patients about being a burden to their relatives, not getting well and dreading death, may increase their levels of depression.

Advertisement Depression was also greater in those with a more advanced level of education and in those with a lower income. The increase in the level of education in cancer patients it can cause more negative thoughts, as it will make it easier to reach information about the disease, the course of the disease and its treatment; it generally increases the level of knowledge. These negative thoughts of patients can negatively affect their mental health and consequently increase their depressive symptoms. Regarding income, however, in line with the findings of Dedeli and colleagues (2008), low income can affect depression due to costly and long-term treatment of the disease, which can increase negative emotions.

Employment status also showed significant differences: depression scores were found to be higher in those who were unemployed. In fact, working and engaging in something turned out to be a motivating situation for the cancer patients. THE cancer patients who cannot work and engage in other activities may be more affected by the negativity of the disease, as they focus all their attention on the body, increasing depression.

The positive effects of religious beliefs in cancer patients

In the study presented, the patients’ religious beliefs were high and the type of religious attitude was an important factor in explaining the depression and lack of hope in the patients. cancer patients in the advanced stage of the disease.

In the study, a significant positive correlation was determined between the total mean scores on the depression and hopelessness scale. With increasing hopelessness in the cancer patientsdepression also increased. Negative feelings of patients who lose hope with the course of the disease, such as despair and inability to enjoy their life, consequently increase levels of depression.

However, as patients’ religious beliefs increased, levels of depression and despair decreased, in line with the literature (Dutkova et al., 2017; McCoubrie and Davies, 2006). The authors noted that patients with high levels of spirituality feel mentally relieved, leading to a decrease in depression and an increase in hope. Not coincidentally, in fact, palliative care in cancer patients advanced also include spiritual dimensions.

Summarizing, therefore, from the study in question it emerged that the levels of depression and despair of cancer patients they were moderate if their religious beliefs were high, thereby affecting their depression and hope scores.

According to the World Health Organization, health is the state of well-being in physical, mental and spiritual terms. Therefore, it is possible to aim at the holistic health of the individual by practicing all types of assistance, including spiritual assistance. Therefore, it is important that doctors and nurses, who are in direct contact with patients day and night, do not ignore the patients’ need for spiritual assistance.

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Cancer Patients: The Effects of Religion on Depression Levels