Nav: Home

Hospice caregivers should be screened early to prevent depression, anxiety

February 08, 2017

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Feb. 8, 2017) -- Currently, more than 34 million people in the U.S. care for terminally ill love ones, but few resources are available to help them navigate the challenges they encounter. A study at the University of Missouri School of Medicine found that nearly one-quarter of caregivers were moderately or severely depressed and nearly one-third had moderate or severe anxiety. The researchers recommend that health providers remember to treat the whole family, providing ongoing screening to family caregivers to identify early signs of depression and anxiety.

"While some sadness and worry are expected components of caring for a dying family member or loved one, clinical depression and anxiety shouldn't be," said Debra Parker-Oliver, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the MU School of Medicine and lead researcher of the study. "We have a population that is under immense stress and is not being acknowledged. Basic assessment tools should be used to help increase the likelihood of early detection and treatment of depression and anxiety in family caregivers."

Parker-Oliver and her colleagues conducted depression and anxiety assessments with 395 family caregivers. The researchers found that 23 percent of caregivers were moderately or severely depressed, and 33 percent of caregivers had moderate or severe anxiety. In addition, Parker-Oliver identified several risk factors associated with depression and anxiety among caregivers.

"We found that younger caregivers were more likely to be depressed or anxious," Parker-Oliver said. "We also found that caregivers who are married and caring for a family member with a diagnosis other than cancer, such as Alzheimer's disease, had higher levels of depression."

According to Parker-Oliver, many of these simple assessments are not used because of the misconceived notion among health providers that the family caregivers are not their patients.

"Health providers usually are more focused on the terminally ill patient instead of the entire family," Parker-Oliver said. "However, in many scenarios, it is a family disease. It's fair to say they have two patients: the caregiver and the person who is terminally ill."

Parker-Oliver said that assessment tools for depression and anxiety are widely affordable and have the potential for improved clinical outcomes for family caregivers in need of additional support.
-end-
The study, "The Prevalence and Risks for Depression and Anxiety in Hospice Caregivers," recently was published in Palliative Medicine. It was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Cancer Institute. The content of the article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Depression Articles:

Tackling depression by changing the way you think
A thought is a thought. It does not reflect reality.
How depression can muddle thinking
Depression is associated with sadness, fatigue and a lack of motivation.
Neuroimaging categorizes 4 depression subtypes
Patients with depression can be categorized into four unique subtypes defined by distinct patterns of abnormal connectivity in the brain, according to new research from Weill Cornell Medicine.
Studies suggest inflammatory cytokines are associated with depression and psychosis, and that anti-cytokine treatment can reduce depression symptoms
Studies presented at this year's International Early Psychosis Association meeting in Milan, Italy, (Oct.
Is depression in parents, grandparents linked to grandchildren's depression?
Having both parents and grandparents with major depressive disorder was associated with higher risk of MDD for grandchildren, which could help identify those who may benefit from early intervention, according to a study published online by JAMA Psychiatry.
Postpartum depression least severe form of depression in mothers
Postpartum depression -- a household term since actress Brooke Shields went public in 2005 about her struggle with it -- is indeed serious.
Tropical Depression 1E dissipates
Tropical Depression 1E or TD1E didn't get far from the time it was born to the time it weakened to a remnant low pressure area along the southwestern coast of Mexico.
Diagnosing depression before it starts
MIT researchers have found that brain scans may identify children who are vulnerable to depression, before symptoms appear.
Men actually recommend getting help for depression
Participants in a national survey read a scenario describing someone who had depressed symptoms.
Depression too often reduced to a checklist of symptoms
How can you tell if someone is depressed? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) -- the 'bible' of psychiatry -- diagnoses depression when patients tick off a certain number of symptoms on the DSM checklist.

Related Depression Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...