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Depressive disorders in spouses of mentally ill patients


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.

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Accepted: 23 November 2001

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Wittmund, B., Wilms, H., Mory, C. et al. Depressive disorders in spouses of mentally ill patients. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 37, 177–182 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/s001270200012

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  • Key words Depression – spouses – burden of caregiving – CIDI – prevalence rates