Depression and Anxiety Among Partner and Offspring Carers of People With Dementia: A Systematic Review

Gerontologist. 2019 Sep 17;59(5):e597-e610. doi: 10.1093/geront/gny049.

Abstract

Background and objectives: Family carers of people with dementia (PWD) experience high rates of depression and anxiety. However, the factors that are associated with these mental health concerns among family carers are not well understood. The purpose of this review was to identify factors that are associated with depression and anxiety in family carers of PWD.

Research design and methods: A systematic review was conducted of studies that examined depressive or anxiety symptoms among family caregivers of community-dwelling older adults with dementia. Twenty-six studies met inclusion criteria and were included in the review.

Results: Depressive and anxiety symptoms were related to demographic factors, dementia characteristics, carer psychological and social factors, and dyadic relationship factors. Some prominent factors were consistently associated with depressive symptoms across studies. Female carers and adult-child carers, rather than spousal carers, were more likely to experience depressive symptoms. Carers' coping strategies and activity restriction were also found to be strongly related to depressive symptoms. Severity of dementia-related problematic behaviors was related to carers' depression and anxiety symptoms. In addition, relationship type and quality were important factors associated with depressive symptoms.

Discussion and implications: Several important risk factors for carer depression were highlighted in this review. However, a lack of measurement precision and a reliance on cross-sectional studies limits our understanding of exactly how depression and anxiety progress during the caregiving experience. The implications for prevention and intervention programs for depression and anxiety are discussed, as well as suggestions for future research to improve the quality of research in this area.

Keywords: Caregiving-informal; Dementia; Depression; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Depression / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology