Objectives: . This study examined the association between caregiving for disabled or ill family members, estimated to occur in more than 22 million US households, and change in mental health.
Methods: We assessed 4-year change in mental health among 37 742 Nurses' Health Study participants with the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36.
Results: Women who provided 36 or more weekly hours of care to a disabled spouse were almost 6 times more likely than noncaregivers to experience depressive or anxious symptoms (multivariate odds ratio [OR] = 5.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.8, 8.3). Caring for a disabled or ill parent (>or= 36 weekly hours) was associated with a less dramatic elevation in depressive or anxious symptoms (multivariate OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 0.9, 4.3).
Conclusions: In this population, caregiving was associated with increased risk of depressive or anxious symptoms.