The Management of Cancer and Depression in People With Intellectual Disabilities: Overcoming Barriers to Improve Care

The Management of Cancer and Depression in People With Intellectual Disabilities: Overcoming Barriers to Improve Care

Lara Carneiro, Katarzyna Ćwirynkało, Rita Vaičekauskaitė, Soner Dogan, Oliwia Kowalczyk, John Wells
Copyright: © 2024 |Pages: 41
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6040-5.ch002
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Intellectual disability (ID) is a lifelong impairment of cognition and adaptive behavior that emerges in the development period. ID is a differentiated disability, whose severity differs from mild to profound. People with ID all have unique strengths and deficits, and while some can live autonomously, others may need significant levels of support. Many people with ID are affected by cancer in their lifetime, and depression and anxiety are psychiatric syndromes that have been receiving the most attention in people with cancer. The chapter provides an overview of how exercise and psychotherapy can help people with ID to manage cancer and depression.
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Intellectual Disability


Historically, ID has been portrayed as a stable, lifelong and continuous condition characterised by deficits in cognitive and social spheres (Maulik et al., 2011; McKenzie, 2013). Traditionally, the characteristics of persons with ID were based on a clinical-medical model (McKenzie, 2013). Nowadays, the research discourse allows a conclusion that the concept has evolved towards an ecological, person-based and more dynamic perspective (Ćwirynkało, 2022; McKenzie, 2013).

For the purposes of the current chapter, the authors adopt a definition by American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, according to which ID “is characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual and in adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates during the developmental period, which is defined operationally as before the individual attains age 22” (Schalock et al., 2021, p. 1).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cancer: An illness with abnormal cell growth that is likely to invade or spread to other body parts.

Depression: Is a common medical illness that causes a feeling of sadness and the inability to enjoy life. It is also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder.

Major Depressive Disorder: This is characterized by depressed mood or lack of interest or pleasure in almost of all daily activities. Symptoms are: fatigue, insomnia or hypersomnia, feelings of uselessness and concentration difficulties that take place for two weeks.

Exercise: Is a physical activity (PA) that aims to enhance and maintain a subject’s physical fitness. Usually, PA is structured and planned to fit the individual needs.

Psychotherapy: Is the assistance given to individuals to help them to handle or manage feelings, emotions and thoughts.

Mental Disorders: Present psychological dysfunction that generates psychological and physical distress or impaired function. Unexpected social behaviour or cultural standard behaviour can be displayed.

Intellectual Disability: It is a generalized disorder that presents significant impairment on cognition and deficits of two or more adaptive behaviours.

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