Without a doubt, being a caregiver to someone you love isn’t easy. Taking care of an ailing or a senior family member is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting, causing the caregiver to feel alone, unappreciated, and unsupported.
These are the most common tell-tale signs of caregiver depression. However, since caregivers are busy attending to the needs of their dependent loved ones, these signs are often ignored.
If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms shared below, it’s time to do something about it before you progress into a full-blown depression.
- Constant mood swings (alternating between sadness and a feeling of emptiness and anxiety). Feeling helpless, irritable and stressed.
- Negative mindset and low self-esteem
- Lack of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Emotional or physical tiredness
- Change in sleep patterns. You may either oversleep or experience insomnia (lack of sleep)
- Change in appetite (overeating leading to weight gain or lack of appetite causing weight loss)
- General aches and pains
- Deteriorating cognition and memory. Difficulty focusing or remembering. You also find it tough to make decisions.
- Reduced libido or drive for sex
- Constant thoughts of death or suicidal inclinations
Depression can be managed and treated, provided you recognize its symptoms early and take professional help. Doctors often use a combination of medications and counseling to effectively manage the symptoms of caregiver depression. So, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about how you feel.
Besides seeking professional help, you can take several steps to take care of yourself, stay healthy, and improve your state of mind.
Effective Tips to Prevent and Overcome Caregiver Depression
1. Be Realistic
You are human and have limitations. Learn to appreciate this fact and do how much you can. Avoid taking up tasks that you find strenuous or don’t have time to do. You can delegate them to a family member or even a professional.
2. Make Time for You
As a caregiver, it’s easy to put your loved one’s needs ahead of your own. However, you must remember that you will not be able to care for your beloved family member or friend if you are depressed or feeling overwhelmed. Take a break from your routine and pursue the activities you enjoy.
For instance, taking up a hobby like gardening, baking, or pottery to improve your mood and give a sense of purpose to your life.
3. Nurture Relationships
Keep in touch with your friends and family members who can offer you the support and encouragement you need. Also, going on treks with friends and attending social events can help let off steam, allowing you to relieve your stress and restore your energy level.
4. Reach Out
Caregiving is a selfless act; yet, if you are doing it all by yourself, it may cause you to develop feelings of loneliness, disorder, sadness, and frustration. Don’t wait for these negative emotions to get the better of you. Reach out to your family members and friends for emotional support. You should also consider getting advice and support from mental health professionals and counselors who can help you manage your emotions and offer effective advice on caregiving.
Sometimes, talking about one’s caregiver journey can help. Join caregiver communities that not only offer handy advice to caregivers but also encourage them to express and process their emotions.
5. Consider Professional Help
Services such as in-home services, adult daycare, or respite care can help manage your loved one while offering you a much-needed break. If you need a few hours to yourself but don’t want to compromise on the care offered to your loved one, consider these options. Assisted living facilities offer a longer break. If you can afford it, these facilities are worth a try.
Remember – you cannot help your dependant loved one feel better and battle depression simultaneously. Maintaining a healthy body and mind is critical for you and your ailing or aging loved one.
Though attending to the needs of a beloved family member or friend is a noble deed, it can cause feelings of isolation, frustration, and anger over a period of time. Don’t let months and years of caregiving deteriorate your mental and emotional health. Watch out for the warning signs of caregiver depression shared in this post and manage them effectively.
(Featured Image by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash)