Updated: Jul 9, 2019
One of society's all-too-silient health crises is caregiver depression. A conservative estimate reports that 20% of family caregivers suffer from depression. This is twice the rate of the general population.
Caregiving itself does not cause depression, nor will everyone who provides caregiving experience the
negative feelings that go along with depression. But oftentimes, in an effort to provide the best possible care for a loved one, caregivers will sacrifice their own best interest, physical needs and emotional needs. The resulting feelings of exhaustion, anger, sadness, anxiety, and isolation can take a heavy toll on the most capable caregivers.
The National Institute of Mental Health offers the following recommendations to those suffering from caregiving depression:
- Set realistic goals in light of the depression and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility.
- Break large tasks into small ones, set priorities, and do what you can as you can.
- Try to be in the company of other people, maybe someone you can confide in and talk to.
Participate in activities that may make you feel better, such as mild exercise, going to a movie or ballgame, attending a social event.
- Expect that your mood will improve gradually, not immediately. Feeling better can take time.
- Let your family and friends help you.
Self care, positive feedback from others, positive self-talk, and recreational activities are helpful in avoiding depression. Look for classes and support groups available through caregiver support organizations to help you learn or practice effective problem-solving and coping strategies needed for caregiving. For your health and the health of those around you, take some time to care for yourself.