Although it is well established that prostate cancer (PCa) patients are more likely to experience clinical depression than their age-matched non-prostate cancer peers, and that such depression can have negative effects upon survival, little is known about the underlying nature of the depressive symptomatology that these men experience. In particular, the incidence of melancholic symptoms of depression, which are signs of increased risk of suicide and resistance to treatment, has not previously been reported in PCa patients. The present study aimed to measure the incidence and nature of Melancholia in PCa depression.
A sample of 507 PCa patients in Queensland, Australia, completed anonymous and confidential questionnaires about their background, treatment status, and depression. Data were analysed to select depressive symptoms that were part of the definition of Melancholia vs those which were not. Regression was used to determine the links between Melancholia and overall depressive status, and factor analysis revealed the underlying components of Melancholia, which were mapped over time since diagnosis for 3 years.
Psychometric data were satisfactory. Melancholia significantly predicted depressive status for the most depressed subset of patients, but not for the total sample. Melancholia was factored into its components of Anhedonia and Agitation, and the first of these was more powerful in predicting Melancholia. Variability over the 3 years following diagnosis was noted for each of these two components of Melancholia.
The strong presence of Melancholia in the depressive symptomatology of this sample of PCa patients suggests that some forms of treatment for depression may be more likely to succeed than others. The dominance of Anhedonia and Agitation over other symptoms of Melancholia also holds implications for treatment options when assisting these men to cope with their depression.