Treatment of Late-Life Depression Alleviates Caregiver Burden
Article first published online: 25 NOV 2009
© 2009, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2009, The American Geriatrics Society
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume 58, Issue 1, pages 23–29, January 2010
How to Cite
Martire, L. M., Schulz, R., Reynolds, C. F., Karp, J. F., Gildengers, A. G. and Whyte, E. M. (2010), Treatment of Late-Life Depression Alleviates Caregiver Burden. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 58: 23–29. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02610.x
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 25 NOV 2009
OBJECTIVES: To describe the burden experienced by family caregivers of older adults with depression and to examine the positive effects on caregivers of treating late-life depression.
DESIGN: Two-phase treatment study for major depressive disorder (MDD) that included 6 weeks of open treatment with antidepressant medication for all older patients followed by 16 weeks of randomized treatment for patients who were partial responders, comparing a combination of medication and interpersonal psychotherapy with medication alone.
SETTING: Primary care and university late-life mental health research clinic.
PARTICIPANTS: Adults aged 60 and older participating in a randomized trial for treatment of MDD who enrolled in a family caregiver study and their caregiver (N=244 dyads).
MEASUREMENTS: Improvement in patient symptoms during open treatment (lower scores on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD)) and remission of depression during randomized treatment (3 consecutive weekly HRSD scores of ≤7) were examined as predictors of lower general caregiver burden and burden specific to patient depression.
RESULTS: Caregivers reported a moderate to high level of general caregiver burden on average. Change in patient depression during open treatment was associated with significantly decreased depression-specific burden (β=−0.22, P=.001) and a trend toward lower general burden (β=−0.08, P=.08). Caregivers of patients who remitted showed significantly decreased depression-specific burden (F (1,76)=4.27, P=.04).
CONCLUSION: Treatment of late-life depression has benefits that extend to the family members on whom patients depend. Caregiver education and support may strengthen these effects.