START therapy reduces anxiety and depression in dementia carers

A new study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014 shows that eight sessions of psychological therapy can help reduce anxiety and depression in people caring for a family member with dementia.

Posted on 16th July 2014

A new study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014 shows that eight sessions of psychological therapy can help reduce anxiety and depression in people caring for a family member with dementia. The two-year trial, from researchers at UCL in London, recruited 260 family carers, with some participants enrolled in a programme called START (STrAtegies for RelaTives). The programme consisted of eight sessions of psychological therapy over two to four months, which included education about dementia, ways to find emotional support and techniques for managing difficult behaviour. After two years, the researchers found those who had been on the START programme had better scores on measures of depression and anxiety than those who were not on the programme.

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:

“This study serves as a reminder that dementia doesn’t only affect those who are diagnosed with the condition: its effects are felt far and wide, not least for individuals and families who are caring for their loved ones. Around 23 million people the UK – roughly a third of the population – have a close friend or family member with dementia, and it’s these unsung heroes who take on much of the strain of the condition. It’s important to find ways to support carers and protect their health, and these results suggest that the START programme can help reduce anxiety and depression for carers. Ultimately, if we are to reduce the burden dementia places on carers and society as a whole, we must deliver effective treatments capable of stopping the condition it in its tracks.”

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