The Burden of Care


Caregivers of patients with mental disorders carry large amounts of burden.

By Ajay Ramanathan

Bengaluru, April 11, 2019.

A recent study noted that caregivers  tending to patients suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder,alcohol-dependency syndrome and depressive disorder, face a significant burden in their lives. The study notes that caregivers faced physical pain and sleep disturbances.  The study also notes that the caregivers of those with schizophrenia faced a higher load than the other two conditions.

The study also involved patients with physical conditions like diabetes and hypertension.  It was inferred that their conditions were aggravated during the caregiving process. Also, the physical difficulties that caregivers faced hindered the  process.

Rajni Jain had the responsibility of tending to her husband, who was diagnosed with Stage-II bipolar dDisorder details her ordeal. “It’s a tough daily routine. Yes, ill-health affects you a lot. You cannot be independent as you have to arrange your routine in accordance with your patient’s schedule. This has an emotional effect on you.”

However, Jain noted that there is a reconciliation process. “If you understand the disease, it is easier to provide care. While you have to enjoy your personal life as well, it is important that you recognize that care-giving is a part of your life as well. I enjoy every moment as much you can.”

Jain mentioned the difficulties that she faces, “he would repeatedly ask simple questions and this would frustrate me.  He wouldn’t be satisfied until you give him an answer.”

The study also took certain socio-economic factors into consideration. While studying those who were above the age of 50, it concluded that those who were below the poverty line (BPL) faced a higher weight than others. The study also found the affliction to be higher among male caregivers.  The study also noted that the stress was greater among primary caregivers as they may be exposed to the worsening of symptoms.

Psychologist Ruchi Yadav noted that primary caregivers have a greater burden on them because they have to constantly monitor the mental state of the patient as well. “Being a caregiver could be a nightmare because one would have to live under the constant fear of relapse.”

Distinguishing between neurotic and psychotic disorders, Yadav mentioned that psychotic disorders like schizophrenia and depression are not curable. Rather, they can only be managed.

Yadav added, “There is a stigma around caregivers – the spouse, child, parent, etc. As a female, one would have to adopt a sacrificial mindset while taking care of the spouse. In India, we are conditioned to think as a collective. So, one is not allowed to be self-centered. Also, being a caregiver makes complicated demands. The human costs involved in being a caregiver are very high.”

However, Yadav points to a shift in attitudes. “Now, there is a psychological education with regard to the duty faced by caregivers. However, it is still at a rudimentary stage. If given proper counselling, they should be able to cope better.”