Background: According to the literature on stress and coping, the burden of caregiving to a mentally ill partner might have an impact on the mental health of the spouse.
Method: As part of a study on the burden of caregiving to mentally ill family members, a structured psychiatric interview (DIA-X-M-CIDI) was conducted with spouses of patients suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia (n = 151).
Results: Covarying with the partner's gender and the severity of the patient's illness a significantly increased prevalence of depressive disorders could be found.
Conclusion: Psychiatric patients' partners are at a high risk of developing a depressive disorder. It appears necessary to develop special interventions for spouses reducing stress and the risk of getting depressed.