It is not unusual for caregivers to develop mild or more serious depression as a result of the constant demands they face while providing care. Add to this the feelings of stress, isolation and worry many of us are experiencing as we try and navigate living in a pandemic. Now caregiving is even more difficult.
If you are feeling like the weight of the world is solely on your shoulders, if you are feeling like you have less energy than usual and feel like you are struggling emotionally and mentally day to day, you may be experiencing caregiver depression. But you are not alone. A growing number of caregivers are struggling with depression as they try to balance caregiving in a more difficult world.
Caregiving does not cause depression. But when caregivers get caught up in trying to do everything themselves, they become overtired and often even more isolated from people who care about them, at a time when we all feel isolated. It’s common for caregivers to feel overwhelmed, constantly worried or become more easily irritated or even angry. They carry a lot upon their shoulders.
You may be experiencing signs of mental health issues, though you may not recognize them right away. This can be especially true now in a time when so much feels so new and very uncertain. If you think you may be feeling the effects of depression, ask yourself these questions:
- Are your eating habits changing? Are you gaining or losing weight?
- Are you tired too often?
- Are you feeling sad, overwhelmed or constantly worried?
- Are you getting too much sleep or not enough sleep?
- Does it seem like you get angry or agitated more easily?
- Have you lost interest in things that used to bring joy?
- Do you feel like you aren’t good enough or that nothing you do is good enough?
- Do you seem to have chronic pain or headaches?
If these feel familiar, here are important steps you can take. Remember, you can’t care for your loved one if you don’t take care of yourself.
Seek Professional Help
If you found your answer to several of these was “Yes,” it might be a good idea to talk to someone who is qualified to diagnose and treat depression. A professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist can assess your condition and suggest ways to cope. Many mental health professionals are offering telehealth sessions, so you don’t have to worry about attempting an office visit.
Find Others Who Share Your Experiences and Struggles
Consider joining a good online support group. Support groups can help with coping skills and give you connections to other caregivers. They can be a great outlet for sharing feelings and recognizing you are not alone, there are others who can relate to what you are experiencing. Support groups can also help reduce the feelings of isolation, especially now.
It is important to have an active support network. Make an effort to stay in touch with friends and family. It may help to set scheduled calls with family members or friends, a time to catch up and connect. Online video chats, actually seeing a friend’s face can make you feel less isolated. It’s important to stay connected. Especially with those that seem to always lift your spirits.
Palladium Hospice and Palliative Care can also be a resource, we can help share in caregiving responsibilities and provide an extra layer of support in the safety of your home. Many believe our care is only medical, but we also care for the mind and spirit. We can help you feel less overwhelmed and less like the weight of caregiving is only on your shoulders. Having support and not feeling solely responsible for your loved one can help with caregiving depression.
These are certainly difficult times. As a caregiver, it is so important that you take care of yourself so that you can provide care for your loved one. We hope you find these tips useful, so you can feel more empowered to continue the important role you are playing in the life of your loved one.