Background: Caregiver distress is the strain experienced by individuals providing care for people with chronic conditions which limit their self-sufficiency for tasks of daily living. Over 1 in 5 Americans are caregivers–a number expected to increase with an aging population.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis using the 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine rates of depressive disorders among caregivers and associations between demographic and relational aspects of the care recipient.
Results: The included sample size for analysis was 32,676, representing 17,274,935 US caregivers. We found that caregivers who were female, American Indian/Alaskan Native, race-not-listed, earning less than $15,000 a year, or did not complete high school, had higher rates of depression diagnosis. The rates of depression were higher among caregivers if the recipient had a mental or chronic respiratory condition, or if the recipient was their live-in partner. Rates of depression were lower for caregivers of their mother-in-law or spouse.
Limitations: Results were based on self-reported survey data, which are susceptible to social desirability bias. Diagnoses of depression may also be over or under reported across several demographic variables, which may confound results.
Conclusion: Our findings add to previous research showing that specific groups of caregivers are at higher risk for caregiver stress. Future qualitative research may elucidate underlying causes of depression among caregivers. Analysis into the risk factors for depression among caregivers is vital in providing effective therapeutic options for the caregiver.
- Caregiver strain