Advice on Caregiver Depression
Many caregivers experience caregiver depression. If you are experiencing symptoms, know that you aren't alone and that help is available. Depression is a serious condition, but one that is treatable.
Support groups are helpful, but they don't solve everything. While we may be full of advice, I'm sure what you'd really like would be for all these people to come to clean your house, give your loved one a bath, go to the liquor store for you...(just kidding, I'm trying to talk about avoiding horrible effects of depression, alcohol is a depressant!)
There are always mixed feeling for a lot of people when it comes to taking medication. Here is my take though on why it should be considered...
Depression causes a chemical change in your brain. The longer that chemical change exists, the harder it is to get everything back in balance.
When you are caring for someone with a disease like Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, that depression will hit you in waves - first when the diagnosis is giving, every time there is a decline, etc. There is not a way to avoid it. I'm going to follow this up with information about anticipatory grief.
If you are depressed, the person in your care, no matter how confused, is going to be affected.
There is no shame in admitting that you need help with depression and anxiety when caring for a loved one. There is no shame in asking your doctor if he or she thinks you may benefit from an antidepressant. There are many antidepressants on the market today.
Just like any other medication - antidepressants are not a "one size fits all." Other diagnoses, allergies, etc., must be taken into consideration when prescribing.
Here is why I believe medication is sometimes necessary - I already described how the longer the depression exists, the harder it is to reverse or balance the chemicals in our brain.
For some people, support groups, talk therapy, eating healthier, exercising (which are all good ideas) aren't enough, and that medication may be just what you need.
As with many other medications, it should be started out slowly and tapered back off when appropriate - it doesn't mean you need to take it for the rest of your life, but that also doesn't mean that if you begin to feel better that you should discontinue use, especially if the environment, caregiving situation has not changed.
Forgoing medical treatment for depression is not being strong; it is being naive. Seeking treatment may be the best thing you can do for yourself and the person you are caring for.
by Karen Francis - Speaker, Educator and Caregiver Support