Depression, anxiety and stress among primary caregivers of thalassemia patients in Hyderabad
A chronic genetic disorder; Thalassemia major is a disease, characterized by continuing and severe anemia, bone deformities, hepato-splenomegally and growth retardation. It is a potentially life threatening and serious life-limiting disease that brings about considerable disturbance in all aspects of life. Therapies such as transfusion of blood have enhanced the physical health status of the thalassemia major patients but numerous treatment sessions and alteration in physical appearance effects on the quality of life of the patients and their families. Depression while battling surviving thalassemia is increasingly accepted, globally. But we hypothesized that psychiatric morbidities aren’t limited to the patient, in fact they extend to the caregivers as well. Our study screens the primary caregivers for Depression, Anxiety and Stress which more often than not are the parents. This observational study encompassed all 3 major thalassemia centers in Hyderabad namely; Fatimid foundation, Zainabia center and Saharo human aid center. The city-wide survey included 79 caregivers presenting at these centers (via convenience sampling) from 1st Dec 2014 to 10th February 2015. Data was collected using interview based structured questionnaire which included the 42 point DAS scale approved by Australian Center for Posttraumatic Mental Health. The data was analyzed in SPSS v. 19.0 and Ms. Excel 2013. Moderate levels of Depression (16.06), Anxiety (10.44) and Stress (19.11) were all unearthed in the caregivers. Majority of the sample comprised of male (60.8%), educated respondents (78.5%) living in joint families (57%). The caregivers mainly belonged to lower (35.4%) and middle (54.5%) economic class and were forced to miss an average of 2-3 days of work per week. The unending therapeutic process of thalassemia, its cost and impending health problems have adverse effects not only on the patients but on the caregivers as well who spend their time struggling and praying for the patients’ health. The mental health of the caregivers should be taken into account and psychiatric consultations should be provided to the caregivers so they may be better able to tend to the patients.
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