Levels of Depression and Anxiety Post-Mastectomy in Breast Cancer Patients at a Public Sector Hospital in Karachi


Clinical Psychology, The Indus Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan


Background: There is a noticeable change in the approach with which women nowadays seek help for diseases like breast cancer, primarily due to awareness campaigns, but what happens after surgical procedures is of great significance too. This study focused on the several psychological connotations attached to mastectomy and how the patients cope. Objective: To understand the pattern of anxiety and level of depression among Pakistani patients undergoing mastectomy. Materials and Methods: The sample size consisted of 88 patients who had undergone mastectomy at the different surgical units of the Civil Hospital, Karachi, from January 2012- December 2014; The questionnaire was administered before they were discharged i.e. within 3 days of surgical procedures. The patients were asked if they were willing to participate in this study, those who agreed signed the consent form and then we preceded by asking questions with a standardized tool. A self made questionnaire was constructed keeping in mind the nature and specification of the disease, which consisted of 20 questions related to anxiety and depression, focusing on a mixture of psychological and physiological symptoms. Results: There were a total of 88 patients out of which 36 (41%) were aged 51 to 60 years, 24 (27.2%) of the patients were in the age category of 41 to 50 years, 17 aged 61 and above (19.3%) and only 11 (12.5%) 30-40 years of age, the youngest of all the age categories. The pattern of depression and anxiety was found to be similar among all age categories, severe depression and anxiety predominating over moderate level of such symptoms, with only relatively few patients sufering mild or no depression symptoms. Conclusions: It was concluded that going through mastectomy leads to moderate to severe levels of depression and anxiety, primarily because the females feel incomplete and insecure after losing a part of themselves.