Therapy Can Aid Dementia Caregivers With Depression

Cognitive reframing helps dementia caregivers cope with depression and anxiety

(RxWiki News) Family members who care for patients suffering from dementia are frequently under stress and are more at risk of suffering from depression. A specialized type of psychotherapy may help.

A therapy called cognitive reframing that can aid caregivers in changing negative assumptions into adaptive behavior could help lower the burden of anxiety and depression.

"Consider seeking assistance from a mental health professional."

Myrra Vernooij-Dassen of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands said she found that changing the thinking and understanding of caregivers helps by allowing more positive feelings to emerge, which can reduce stress.

During the review study, researchers evaluated 11 randomized controlled trials that centered on family caregivers of patients with dementia. The trials reviewed used cognitive reframing as their main component. Caregivers were between the ages of 19 and 84, and 40 percent were caring for a spouse.

Investigators examined whether caregivers benefited from various interventions and whether their beliefs about their caregiving responsibilities could be changed.

They found that caregivers who received cognitive reframing had fewer depression and anxiety symptoms, and were less likely to feel stress and distress about caregiving. Though it aided in managing stress, it was not found to change the burden of caregiving or help with coping skills.

Reframing also led to a better relationship with the person suffering from dementia. Vernooij-Dassen noted that when a caregiver can reframe self-defeating conditions into more constructive reasoning, it is a major change.

“When they need support, reframing their thinking and understanding about dementia can yield positive results, ” she said.

The review study was recently published in The Cochrane Library.

Review Date: 
November 11, 2011