A small study found that spouses of women treated for breast cancer were more likely to become depressed when they were:
- less educated
- married for a shorter time
- in a marriage that was not well adjusted
- very upset about their wives' well-being
- worried about how their wives' illness was affecting their own performance at work
- worried about how their wives' illness would affect their future
The study only looked at male-female relationships, so it's not clear if these results would apply to same-sex couples.
The researchers didn't find a link between a husband's depression and particular details of the breast cancer or treatment (such as whether it was early-stage or advanced). The researchers did find that a husband's depression can negatively affect his wife's treatment response, as well as the couple's relationship.
The emotional toll breast cancer has on a partner or other loved one can be as large or larger than on the person diagnosed. If you're being treated for breast cancer, try to talk to your partner about how he or she is handling the unwanted and frightening intrusion of breast cancer into your lives. If you sense that your partner is struggling, ask for help from other loved ones and your medical team. Caring for each other is one of the best things you can do to fight cancer and stay well, both physically and emotionally.