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Is impending or actual death of a spouse with dementia bad for mental health? Antidepressant use surrounding widowhood
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Public Health Sciences. University of Helsinki, Finland; Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany.
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Number of Authors: 52020 (English)In: European Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1101-1262, E-ISSN 1464-360X, Vol. 30, no 5, p. 953-957Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Previous studies have shown that the risk of death is elevated after the death of a spouse. Limited evidence is available on changes in mental health before and after bereavement among individuals whose spouse dies of dementia. Methods: We analyzed changes in the 3-month prevalence of antidepressant use for 5 years before and 3 years after widowhood for individuals whose spouses died of either dementia or other causes. The study used data of 41 855 widowed individuals and repeated-measures logistic regression analyses. Antidepressant use was based on the prescription register of Finland in 1995-2007. Results: Five years before widowhood, the 3-month prevalence for antidepressant use was 4% among widowing men and 6-7% among widowing women, regardless of whether the spouse died of dementia or other causes. Further changes in antidepressant use depended on a spouse's cause of death. Women whose spouses died of dementia experienced large increase in antidepressant use starting from 3 to 4 years prior to widowhood, whereas other widows did not experience large increase until after widowhood. The trajectories for men were similar. Antidepressant use following the death of a spouse with dementia stayed at a new heightened level after widowhood. Conclusions: The trajectories of antidepressant use indicate that the process of losing a spouse to dementia is bad for mental health, already a few years prior to widowhood. There are no clear improvements in mental health after the death of a spouse with dementia. Support services for individuals whose spouses' dementia progresses are needed.

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2020. Vol. 30, no 5, p. 953-957
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Nursing
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-188914DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckaa099ISI: 000593019900022PubMedID: 32607530OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-188914DiVA, id: diva2:1517378
Available from: 2021-01-13 Created: 2021-01-13 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Martikainen, PekkaKorhonen, Kaarina

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