As many as one in five caregivers will suffer from depression, which is about twice the prevailing rate in the general population.
While many may show signs, many others who will not. Even after the loss of the person that is being looked after, research suggests that at least four in 10 caregivers will suffer from some degree of depression for a few years afterwards. More women than men caregivers will experience depression.
It is important to note that providing care does not cause depression. It is common that those family members providing care sacrifice their own physical and emotional wellbeing to provide the best quality of care to another person. The need to provide constant care can lead to isolation, exhaustion, anxiety and anger, all of which can be detrimental to the health of the caregiver. Hiring a professional caregiver from a home health care agency can go a long way toward alleviating so much of the emotional and physical burdens that can come with caring for a family member.
Depression does not equal weakness. Many caregivers feel that depression is an indication that they are weak or unable to cope rather than realizing that they have their own mental health to deal with. Friends and other relatives should keep an eye out on symptoms such as changes to sleeping patterns, eating habits, loss of interest in others, being angered easily and thoughts of suicide. If the symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks, then try to suggest that they seek some support from their health practitioner and seek out professional caregiving services if there is an option for that.
Caregivers can help themselves by setting realistic targets. Remember these important tips about caregiving:
- Try breaking tasks into smaller and manageable chunks.
- Talk to someone about how you are coping and feeling.
- Try to find some time for exercise or meet up with friends. If you are feeling depressed, you will need time to feel better about yourself or the situation.
- Try to maintain some positive thoughts and let people help you when they offer it to you.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help, either.
- Finally, do not be afraid to seek help, advice and medication to relieve your symptoms from a mental health professional.