Family members and caregivers of children with  atopic dermatitis (AD) may be at increased risk for anxiety and depression, according to new research presented at the 28th European Dermato-Venereology Society Congress in Madrid.

Researchers from the PHIUniversity Clinic of Dermatology assessed the impact of an AD diagnosis on the families of 35 children aged 1-6. In total, the researchers evaluated 83 family  members  and  caregivers  and  found  that  all  respondents  reported  at  least  mild severity  anxiety  with  some  showing  moderate  severity  anxiety. Almost three  in  four  (74 percent) participants were also found to present with depression. The study found that depression and anxiety scores were associated with the persistence and longevity of AD.

Researchers did not find an association between scores and the severity  of  the  disease, meaning  that  depression  or  anxiety  was  not  observed  to  increase where AD was more severe.

The study used the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and Hamilton Anxiety Rating scale (HAM-A). To supplement the ratings questionnaires, the team also asked participants what their greatest concerns were. The most frequent worry reported was the information families and caregivers received about the nature of the disease itself, since AD is a long-term condition which requires complex and costly medical treatments.

"The chronicity  and  complexity  of  chronic  dermatitis  often  leads  to  overlooked  anxiety  and depression in family members and caregivers, but our results show the extent of this cannot be overstated, says lead  researcher Dr. Vesna  Grivcheva-Panovska. “In the future, we must take a wholesome view of the situation and a widened approach to the management of AD not only of the patients but of their families as well.”