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Increased depression, burden, reported in
family caregivers of ALS patients
Newswise ó Family caregivers of
people with ALS, most often spouses, are likely to become depressed
and feel burdened, but thatís not the case for the people they are
caring for, according to a study published in the March 20, 2007,
issue of Neurologyģ, the scientific journal of the American
Academy of Neurology.
evidence a caregiverís mental status greatly
influences ALS patients, these findings show a
family caregiverís physical and psychological
condition should not be overlooked when planning ALS
care,Ē said study author Adriano Chio, MD, with the
University of Torino in Torino, Italy, and a member
of the American Academy of Neurology.
Researchers interviewed 31 ALS
patient-caregiver couples at the beginning and end of a nine-month
study. Couples were tested for depression and quality of life.
Researchers also examined a caregiverís feeling of burden, along
with a patientís self-perceived burden.
The study found a significant
increase of burden and depression among caregivers over the nine
months, while depression, quality of life, and self-perceived burden
remained virtually unchanged among people with ALS.
Mild to moderate depression among
caregivers jumped from 9.7 percent to 19.3 percent. Feeling burdened
increased 11 percent among caregivers, with the most common
complaint being not enough time for oneself. Quality of life scores
dropped slightly among caregivers.
Chio says several factors may have
contributed to the steadiness among quality of life and depression
in people with ALS, including a patientís acceptance of the deadly
disease, or possibly cognitive impairment.
The study also found while quality
of life was higher in caregivers than in patients at the beginning
of the study, quality of life was higher in patients by the end.
ďALS is considered a family disease, meaning that it involves every
member of the patientís entourage. Interventions specifically
designed to enhance effective communication between patients and
caregivers might improve the psychological well-being of both
parties, helping patients to be more aware of their caregiversí
needs, and caregivers to accept their straining, but invaluable
role,Ē said Chio.
The study was supported by the
Ricerca Sanitaria Finalizzata (an Italian health research program)
by the Piemonte Region, Italy.
The American Academy of
Neurology, an association of more than 20,000 neurologists and
neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care
through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with
specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders
of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimerís disease,
epilepsy, Parkinsonís disease, and multiple sclerosis. For more
information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit