Older patients with diabetes who are not dealing well with the disease are likely to have symptoms of depression, a new study has found. It also found that their spouses also suffer distress related to the disease and its management.
"Responsibilities and anxieties can differ for patients with diabetes and their spouses, but each may experience stress, frustration and sadness at times related to the demands of living with this disease," said Melissa M. Franks, from Purdue University.
"We know spouses often support their partners, but in our work we want to know what form their involvement takes and how the disease and its management affect both the patient and spouse," Franks said.
Franks and her team found that the distress spouses feel is similar to what patients feel, and this could contribute to their own depressive symptoms such as irritability or sadness.
These depressive symptoms come from their own anxieties about living with the disease or caring for someone with the disease and not necessarily because the other person is struggling.
Researchers also found that when male patients were concerned about the management of their diabetes, their depressive symptoms were elevated more than those for female patients with similar levels of concerns.
The study was based on statistical models with 185 couples older than 50.
The patients and spouses completed individual surveys that measured distress related to diabetes, such as adherence to treatment recommendations, as well as depressive symptoms.
The gender effects were measured by comparing the couples' responses. There were 67 female patients and 118 male patients, and each couple was screened to make sure only one person had diabetes.
The study appeared in the December issue of the Family Relations journal.