[MOL] Caregivers series 8.... [00817] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Caregivers series 8....

Caregivers and Depression: It's How You See Yourself That Counts

It's not what you do, it's how you feel about what you do. This applies to people who care for relatives with dementia as much as it does anybody else. Researchers report that up to three-fourths of caregivers for patients with dementia develop serious depression. But a recent study led by psychologists from Kent State University in Ohio suggests that the way caregivers feel about their caregiving has a lot to do with whether or not they get depressed.

Researchers interviewed 188 caregivers over a period of one year. They asked about the relative's behavior problems, like wandering or aggression. They also asked about the caregiver's feelings, particularly the feeling of being trapped in the caregiver role and of being overloaded or "burned out." The researchers wanted to see if caregivers' feelings of stress are related to their risk for developing depression.

At any given time, about one-third of the caregivers reported depressive symptoms. About 47 percent of the caregivers never reported symptoms of depression, about 21 percent were consistently depressed, and the other 32 percent sometimes reported depressive symptoms and sometimes didn't.

Those who were consistently depressed tended to have lower household incomes and less education than the other caregivers. Also, those caring for relatives with fewer behavior problems were less likely to be depressed, as were those who felt less trapped and overloaded.

Caregivers who felt trapped in their roles were particularly likely to report depression. The researchers suggest that caregivers need help coping with feelings of being trapped and overloaded, even more than they need help in caring for their relatives. These subjective feelings are greater risk factors for depression than the actual amount of care a relative requires.

These findings emphasize that those caring for relatives with dementia or other chronic conditions need emotional support and coping techniques to help them maintain their own health and well-being.
Warmly, lillian
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