Predicting psychological distress of informal carers of individuals with major depression or bipolar disorder
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Caring for someone with a mental illness is associated with high levels of burden and psychological distress. Understanding the psychological distress of the caring role may be an important factor in preventing the development of physical and mental health problems in carers. The purpose of the present study was to determine the contribution of coping styles, social support and physical activity in predicting the psychological distress reported by informal carers of individuals with major depression or bipolar disorder. Participants were informal carers (n=72) of adults with a diagnosed depressive illness, recruited from mental health organisations within the community setting. Carers completed the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12; Goldberg & Williams, 1988), Brief COPE (Carver, 1997), Social Support Questionnaire (SSQ-6; Sarason et al., 1987) and International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ; Craig et al., 2003). Multiple regression analysis revealed 65% of the variance in psychological distress could be accounted for by adaptive and maladaptive coping styles, perceived quantity and satisfaction with social support and physical activity. Satisfaction with social support (β = -0.501; P < 0.001) and maladaptive coping (β = 0.367; P <0.001) were significant predictors of psychological distress. These findings suggest that interventions should target coping styles, specifically reducing maladaptive behaviours, and social support mechanisms, there-by giving more quality support to assist carers to manage perceptions of psychological distress. Future research should implement and test the effect of coping style modification and social support strategies on the psychological wellbeing of informal carers.
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