Symptoms of mood disorders in family carers of older people with dementia who experience caregiver burden: a network approach

França, Alex Bacadini; Gordon, Adam Lee; Samra, Rajvinder; Duarte, Evelise Saia Rodolpho and Jacinto, Alessandro Ferrari (2020). Symptoms of mood disorders in family carers of older people with dementia who experience caregiver burden: a network approach. Age and Ageing (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afaa008

Abstract

Background: Informal carers of people with dementia are at greater risk of anxiety and depressive disorders if they find caregiving to be a burden. The aim of this study was to use a network analysis of cross-sectional data to investigate the relationships between anxiety and depressive symptoms in family carers of older people with dementia who experience burden.
Methods: Sixty family carers exhibiting high levels of burden using the Zarit Burden Interview were included in the study. Participants completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.The network analysis identified the depression and anxiety symptom network using features including a topological graph, network centrality metrics and community analysis. The network was estimated through the graphical LASSO technique in combination with a walktrap algorithm to obtain the clusters within the network and the connections between the nodes (symptoms). A directed acyclic graph was generated to model symptom interactions.
Results: The resulting network architecture shows important bridges between depression and anxiety symptoms. Lack of pleasure and loss of enjoyment were identified as potential gateway symptoms to other anxiety and depression symptoms and represent possible therapeutic targets for psychosocial interventions. Fear and loss of optimism were highly central symptoms, indicating their importance as warning signs of more generalised anxiety and depression.
Conclusions: This network analysis of depressive and anxiety symptoms in overburdened family carers provides important insights as to what symptoms may be the most important targets for behavioural interventions.

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