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UW Carbone Cancer Center releases study showing untreated depression in spouses of patients

MADISON, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer center has released a new study showing untreated depression in spouses of cancer patients. 

The center said in a statement Friday that the study looked at 225 spouses of cancer survivors, in conjunction with 3,678 people whose partners don't have cancer.

The study found that spouses of cancer patients who experience depression are 33 percent less likely to obtain treatment for depression than people battling depression whose spouses do not have cancer. 

This issue is compounded in rural areas, the release said. Spouses living in rural areas are 72 percent less likely to be treated for depression than people experiencing depression whose partners do not have cancer. 

Previous studies have reported that caregivers of cancer patients experience depression at the same or higher levels than cancer patients. 

The Carbone Cancer Center said in the release that these findings are important because mental health impacts physical health, and the health of caregivers can make a difference for cancer patients. 

Dr. Kristin Litzelman is the lead author of the study. She said in the release that the health of caregivers is really important. 

"Caregivers might feel too busy or overwhelmed to seek help for their emotional well-being, may feel that being depressed is part of the cancer experience or may not even realize that help is available," Litzelman said. "Ultimately though, caregivers have to take care of themselves in order to be able to care for someone else." 

The study was also researched by Dr. Lori DuBenske and Dr. Amye Tevaarwerk, and was funded by the American Cancer Society and the Carbone Cancer Center. 

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