Nav: Home

Symptoms of depression in caregivers may predict future health problems

September 01, 2019

Paris, France - 01 Sept 2019: Caregivers of stroke survivors who show signs of depression may have a higher risk of suffering their own health challenges down the line, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology.(1)

The findings highlight the importance of attending to the mental health of caregivers and bring to mind the airline-safety metaphor: 'Secure your own oxygen mask before helping someone else.'

"Caregiving is becoming more common and more demanding," says study first author Professor Misook L. Chung of the University of Kentucky College of Nursing in the United States. "More attention needs to be paid, especially early on, to managing depressive symptoms in caregivers. They must realise that self-care is not selfish."

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability around the world and often exerts a heavy toll on those in a supporting position. Providing assistance to patients, including helping the survivor with eating, dressing, going to the bathroom and showering, not to mention taking care of meals, organizing a home and supervising medical care, can become a full-time job - with a deep emotional component.

The current project is the first longitudinal study to address the issue of persistent depressive symptoms and their effect on physical health as well as changes in health during the first year of stroke caregiving.

The research team enrolled 102 caregivers with a mean age of 58. Two-thirds were female and about 70% were spouses. The rest consisted of other family members, although two or three were family friends, says study senior author Rosemarie King, a retired research professor at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Participants answered questionnaires at two points in time: six to ten weeks after the patient was discharged from the hospital and again one year later.

The overall proportion of individuals reporting symptoms of depression like poor appetite or trouble focusing, declined slightly over the course of the study: 32.4% versus 30.4 More than half the participants (57.8%) said they had no issues of mental distress at all, but 20.6% (or one in five) suffered persistent depressive symptoms in the first year of caregiving.

The mental health of people with chronic signs of depression was closely associated with their physical health. One-third of caregivers in the study reported their physical health as fair or poor after one year, while 43% said they felt their health had deteriorated. Compared to caregivers who did not have signs of depression, those with ongoing challenges were seven times more likely to report problems with their health after one-year of caregiving for stroke survivors.

Individuals with persistent symptoms of depression during the first year of caregiving reported heavier caregiving duties, poor family functioning and low interpersonal support.

One limitation of the study is that the researchers did not track primary health outcomes such as diagnoses of physical illness. Instead, they relied on self-reports of caregivers' health status and changes in health status. There was also a high attrition rate, with a third of study participants dropping out. Longer-term studies, with objective measures of caregiver health status, are required.

The conclusions suggest the need for earlier interventions and long-term follow-up of caregivers.

"We haven't paid enough attention to caregivers' health," stresses Prof Chung. "Self-care intervention programmes should include depressive symptom management for caregivers."

A pilot study conducted by Prof Chung found benefits in a more holistic approach incorporating stress management and self-care management for caregivers. "Cognitive behavioural therapy has shown promise, as have interventions that teach caregivers how to better manage patients' and their own emotions", she concluded.
Notes to editors

Authors: ESC Press Office

Mobile: +33 (0) 7 8531 2036


Follow us on Twitter @ESCardioNews

The hashtag for ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology is #ESCCongress

Funding: This research was conducted as part of a National Institutes of Health grant, USA (#R01 NR02416).

Disclosures: None mentioned.

References and notes

(1) The abstract "Caregivers with persistent depressive symptoms are at high risk of having poor health status over 1 year of caregiving" will be presented during "Risk behaviour and psychological distress in cardiovascular patients and their family" on Sunday 01 September at 14:30 to 15:40 CEST in Agora 1-Poster Area.

About ESC Congress

ESC Congress is the world's largest gathering of cardiovascular professionals contributing to global awareness of the latest clinical trials and breakthrough discoveries. ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology takes place from 31 August to 4 September at the Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris, France. Explore the scientific programme.

About the European Society of Cardiology

The European Society of Cardiology brings together health care professionals from more than 150 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people lead longer, healthier lives.

This press release accompanies a presentation at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Society of Cardiology.

European Society of Cardiology

Related Depression Articles:

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.
Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.
Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.
Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.
Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.
CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Post-natal depression in dads linked to depression in their teenage daughters
Fathers as well as mothers can experience post-natal depression -- and it is linked to emotional problems for their teenage daughters, new research has found.
Being overweight likely to cause depression, even without health complications
A largescale genomic analysis has found the strongest evidence yet that being overweight causes depression, even in the absence of other health problems.
Don't let depression keep you from exercising
Exercise may be just as crucial to a depression patient's good health as finding an effective antidepressant.
Having an abortion does not lead to depression
Having an abortion does not increase a woman's risk for depression, according to a new University of Maryland School of Public Health-led study of nearly 400,000 women.
More Depression News and Depression Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at