Caregiving, whether at a retirement home or when caring for a loved one, can be extremely stressful both physically and emotionally. Caregivers often neglect to take care of themselves when attending to a loved one or friend in an effort to provide the best care possible. And while caregiving doesn’t cause depression, the emotional and physical struggles involved in caregiving can strain even the most competent person. The result – feelings of resentment, anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion and depression.
Instead of seeing depression as a sign that balance is lost, it is often viewed as a sign of weakness. Below are some indications you might be struggling with caregiver depression.
- Feelings of despair, s, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry meltdowns, frustration or aggravation, even over minor issues
- Decrease in interest or enjoyment in ordinary activities, like sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disruptions, such as insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Fatigue and insufficient energy making even the smallest task too much effort
- Reduced or enhanced appetite
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Unable to concentrate – foggy brain
- Feelings of worthlessness or shame, blaming yourself for things you can’t control or get stuck on past failures
- Consistent or repeated thinking about death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Mysterious physical issues, like a backache or severe headaches
How to fight depression as a caregiver
The cause of depression is still widely speculated upon, but studies show that it can be caused by genetics, brain chemistry and suffering trauma. Here are some suggestions according to Care Champ, situated in Cape Town, South Africa, on how to deal with caregiver depression.
Admit that you are struggling
Suppressing your feelings and emotions actually does more harm than good. Being honest with ourselves about the state of our mental health is the best thing you can do.
Do some research
Reading up on the condition of your loved one can help relieve some of the tension since you’ll understand more about the illness, be better prepared and know what to expect for the future. Another option is to attend a training program specifically for caregivers. Research suggests that attending such a program can improve the quality of life for caregivers tremendously.
Take care of your own needs
It is vital that you take care of yourself. Caregiving can really drain your resources, so it’s essential to follow a healthy diet, take enough time to recharge and to maintain perspective and self-awareness. And since you are only human, you are limited with your capabilities and getting support from friends and family is essential.
Take a break
Every single day! Schedule 30mins or an hour every day to take a well-deserved, guilt-free break. Make sure everyone understands you are off duty and won’t bother you with their requests. If you implement and follow this through, your loved one will soon realise that you’re serious about needing time for yourself.
Caregiving is a lot like parenting and organising can go a long way. Establishing a routine will make your life as well as your loved one’s life easier. Set some boundaries and make sure everyone is aware of the rules.
Caregiving is one of the best gifts you can give a loved, but you can’t take care of someone else if you have nothing left to give. Caregiving might also have spiritual significance for you. Concentrating on these positive aspects can counteract depression. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you are depressed.
Author: – A Kruger is a freelance content writer for selected businesses such as DIY Painting.