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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2008 Sep;21(3):198-203. doi: 10.1177/0891988708320972.

Persisting burden predicts depressive symptoms in dementia caregivers.

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The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


Dementia caregivers often report feeling burdened by caretaking responsibilities. Caregiver burden is correlated with caregiver depression, but the interrelationship between burden and depression requires further investigation. This study hypothesized that persisting elevated burden results in subsequent depressive symptoms. Participants were 33 dementia caregivers divided into two groups based on their Zarit Burden Interview score. The outcome variable was the total score on the Geriatric Depression Scale after 12 months. Caregivers who had persisting high burden showed significantly worse depression scores after 12 months compared to those caregivers without persisting high burden. Regression analysis controlling for baseline depression also demonstrated burden as a significant predictor of subsequent depression. These data suggest that longitudinal burden may be predictive of higher depressive symptoms; therefore, reducing burden could decrease depressive symptoms in dementia caregivers.

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