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Mental Health & Cystic Fibrosis

October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The intersection of mental health and cystic fibrosis is vast, what does this look like in Canada?

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem in any given year. These rates are demonstrably higher in chronic disease populations, including cystic fibrosis (CF). A recent survey by Cystic Fibrosis Canada found that over 55% of adult patient respondents said they were either “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned” with issues related to their mental health.

The results of the Cystic Fibrosis Canada survey reflect the findings of The International Depression & Anxiety Epidemiology Study (TIDES), which surveyed patients with CF ages 12 and older and their parents/caregivers across 9 countries. The study found rates of anxiety and depression that were approximately 2-3 times those of community samples.

“Anxiety and depression is in our family and with the added stress of coping with a chronic illness – I feel more support will be needed for my daughter to remain healthy as she ages.” –CF parent

Depression and anxiety are linked, with individuals who report higher levels of anxiety being more likely to also report increased rates of depression. There is a relationship between the mental health of parents/caregivers and their children, with children whose parents report higher levels of anxiety and depression being more likely to score as anxious or depressed themselves.

As a result of the TIDES study, an International Committee on Mental Health in CF created 15 recommendations to guide best practices of healthcare providers related to mental health (available in the article here). These recommendations focus on the areas of prevention, screening, and intervention.

Cystic Fibrosis Canada is aware that the needs in the area of mental health are great, and that there are limited resources to address them. We continue to advocate for increased resources to address mental health and will do so for patients and parents/caregivers tell us that they have the support they need in place to effectively address their mental health needs.

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