Purpose of review
To better understand the overall burden of schizophrenia, we aimed to explore informal caregivers’ experiences by evaluating the current evidence on caregiver and patient characteristics, the type of care provided by caregivers, and the impacts of caregiving on caregivers’ lives.
Caregivers provide direct care, assistance with activities of daily living, and emotional, social, and financial support to individuals with schizophrenia. Increased duration of illness and of care, severe or persistent schizophrenia symptoms, criticism of the care recipient, financial burden, and patient disability intensify caregiver burden. Caregivers of individuals with persistent symptoms often feel overwhelmed, stressed, drained, burdened, frustrated, or angry. Financial impacts of caregiving include treatment costs for care recipients, providing financial support, and lost productivity and income. Depression and anxiety are common health impacts for caregivers, who also have increased physical healthcare resource use relative to healthy controls. Caregiver burden is reduced by formal support programs to improve caregivers’ stress management and coping skills and informal sources of social support.
Targeted efforts to improve access to care and provide additional support for caregivers are needed to alleviate caregiver burden and improve outcomes for individuals with schizophrenia.