Rumination in cancer patients increases symptoms of anxiety and depression

30 de July de 2019

Cancer is an important source of stress for those who suffer from it, generating in many cases symptoms of anxiety or depression, what we generically know as emotional distress or psychological distress. Detecting those patients who have a higher risk of developing emotional distress, in order to be able to perform the appropriate psychological interventions, is a challenge that can lead to significant improvements in the quality of life.

In order to study the factors that increase the risk of developing anxious and depressive symptoms, a study entitled “Cognitive factors related to distress in patients recently diagnosed with cancer” has been carried out. This study, conducted at the Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital and published in the journal Psycho-Oncology, has been led by Dr. Amador Priede, a clinical psychologist at Laredo Hospital, together with Dr. César González-Blanch of the Marqués University Hospital de Valdecilla, IDIVAL collaborating researchers. The objective of the study was to analyze the association of two cognitive factors, the rumination – tendency to have repetitive thoughts, focused on oneself, on negative experiences – and the suppression of thoughts – the tendency to deliberately eliminate unwanted thoughts -, with the presence of emotional distress – symptoms of anxiety and depression – in patients with a recent diagnosis of cancer.

The results of the study indicate that a greater tendency towards ruminant thoughts is associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms, even after controlling the effects of other variables. The suppression of thoughts, on the other hand, plays a less important role in the appearance of these symptoms.

These results highlight the importance of evaluating rumination in newly diagnosed cancer patients, in order to carry out precise psychological interventions, and thus achieve better psychological health of people suffering from cancer.