Posttraumatic Growth in Breast Cancer Survivors: Are Depressive Symptoms Really Negative Predictors?

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Objective: Breast cancer (BC) diagnosis is a potentially traumatic event, the related challenges of which can trigger positive or negative reactions. Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is defined as a positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle. The present study aimed to shed light on the relationship between the evolution of depressive symptoms over time and PTG in a group of BC survivors. Method: Depressive symptoms at the time of diagnosis (T0) and 2 years later (T1) were evaluated to investigate their potential impact on the level of PTG at T1. A total of 147 BC patients were recruited and divided into 4 groups according to the changes in depressive symptoms they experienced over time (patients who were never depressed, no longer depressed, still depressed, and depressed now). A One-way analysis of variance was run to compare the levels of PTG for the four groups. Results: The One-way analysis of variance showed that PTG score was significantly different among groups with different levels of depressive symptoms (p = .008). Post hoc comparisons indicated that the PTG score was statistically significantly higher in the no longer depressed group compared with the still depressed and depressed now groups. Conclusions: The current results suggest that high levels of depressive symptoms, displayed at the time of cancer diagnosis, can be considered catalysts for PTG at follow-up, on condition that women experience elevated depressive symptoms only in the first period of the disease.

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