Too often overlooked is the risk of depression in caregivers of patients with dementia, and a new study focuses on how depressive symptoms may differ depending on the familial relationship between caregiver and patient. The study shows how patients' behavioral symptoms are predictive of depression to different extents when the caregiver is the patient's daughter versus daughter-in-law, as reported in Journal of Women's Health.
In Asian societies, a daughter-in-law often takes on the caretaker role, rather than a spouse or child, note Juwon Lee, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Bo Kyung Sohn, MD, Sujeong Seong, MD, and Jun-Young Lee, MD, PhD, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Hyunjoo Lee, Daegu University, Gyeongsan, and Soowon Park, PhD, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea, coauthors of the article "Impact of Behavioral Symptoms in Dementia Patients on Depression in Daughter and Daughter-in-Law Caregivers." In both groups of caregivers, depressive symptoms increased as the frequency and severity of a patient's behavioral symptoms rose. But the level of depression was more strongly affected among one group of caregivers than the other, which the authors attribute to the relationship between patient and caregiver.
"This novel look at how factors such as relationship to the patient can affect caregiver depression offers valuable insights to help guide future studies and interventions aimed at understanding and safeguarding caregiver health," says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women's Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women's Health.
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Juwon Lee et al, Impact of Behavioral Symptoms in Dementia Patients on Depression in Daughter and Daughter-in-Law Caregivers, Journal of Women's Health (2016). DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2016.5831