Men's Health

Anxiety after prostate cancer surgery tied to depression, unhappy sex

Mid-adult businessman lying on sofa at office, looking tired, eyes closed. Bright background.

Mid-adult businessman lying on sofa at office, looking tired, eyes closed. Bright background.  (iStock)

Men who experience high levels of anxiety following prostate cancer surgery are at increased risk for depression and dissatisfaction with their sex life, a new study finds.

The findings suggest that anxious men may benefit from counseling that addresses their worries, and improve their quality of life, the researchers said.

"Given that the majority of men who undergo [surgery] for prostate cancer will not die from their disease, we are concerned about what life will be like for these patients decades after diagnosis and treatment," said study researcher Alexander Parker, an associate professor of epidemiology and urology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

Parker and colleagues analyzed information from 365 men who underwent surgery for prostate cancer. One year after the surgery, participants completed a questionnaire designed to measure their anxiety about their diagnosis and treatment. They also answered questions to measure their levels of erectile function, sexual satisfaction and depression.

The results showed that the men who reported high anxiety levels were more likely to also report low sexual satisfaction and a high rate of depression symptoms.

Interestingly, anxiety was not linked with erectile dysfunction. "If our results can be confirmed by other investigators, it would suggest that anxiety is not affecting some men's ability to perform sexually, but perhaps more their ability to enjoy their sex life," Parker said.

"We are building on these results by designing trials to test whether counseling can help these patients," Parker said.

The findings were presented at a joint meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America and the International Society for Sexual Medicine in Chicago last month.



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