Compassion Strengths

Workshops, consultations, education and support for care givers.

Caregiver Depression

From http://www.caregiver.org/:

Caregiving does not cause depression, nor will everyone who provides care experience the negative feelings that go with depression. But in an effort to provide the best possible care for a family member or friend, caregivers often sacrifice their own physical and emotional needs and the emotional and physical experiences involved with providing care can strain even the most capable person. The resulting feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, isolation, exhaustion—and then guilt for having these feelings—can exact a heavy toll.

Symptoms of Depression:

People experience depression in different ways. Some may feel a general low-level sadness for months, while others suffer a more sudden and intense negative change in their outlook. The type and degree of symptoms vary by individual and can change over time. Consider these common symptoms of depression. Have you experienced any of the following for longer than two weeks?

  • A change in eating habits resulting in unwanted weight gain or loss
  • A change in sleep patterns—too much sleep or not enough
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • A loss of interest in people and/or activities that once brought you pleasure
  • Becoming easily agitated or angered
  • Feeling that nothing you do is good enough
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or attempting suicide
  • Ongoing physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain.
Strategies to Help Yourself

Depressive disorders can make one feel exhausted, helpless and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and may not accurately reflect the situation. The National Institute of Mental Health offers the following recommendations for dealing with depression:

  • Set realistic goals in light of the depression and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility.
  • Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.
  • Try to be with other people and to confide in someone; it is usually better than being alone and secretive.
  • Participate in activities that may make you feel better, such as mild exercise, going to a movie or ballgame, or attending a religious, social or community event.
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Feeling better takes time.
  • It is advisable to postpone important decisions until the depression has lifted. Before deciding to make a significant transition—change jobs, get married or divorced—discuss it with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
  • People rarely "snap out of" a depression. But they can feel a little better day-by-day.
  • Remember, positive thinking will replace the negative thinking that is part of the depression. The negative thinking will be reduced as your depression responds to treatment.
  • Let your family and friends help you.
For Professional Caregivers

Recognizing that you are depressed, even to yourself is one of the most difficult things you can do. It is also one of the most important. As a clinical social worker I was very familiar with the signs of depression even as I descended into an "emotional black hole" that nearly resulted in my taking my own life.

If you are in this situation, the most important thing you can do is to reach out right now to someone you trust and let them help you. If you are not comfortable doing this below are some resources that you may find very useful:

For Information about depression:

American Psychological Association - www.apa.org/topics/depress/index.aspx

American Psychiatric Association - www.psych.org/Share/Parents-Med-Guide/HTML-Depression.aspx

National Institute of Mental Health - www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

For Local (Singapore) Resources

Samaritans of Singapore - http://www.samaritans.org.sg/

Depression Understood Singapore http://www.depression-understood.org/information/singapore.htm

Singapore Forums - http://sgforums.com/forums/12/topics/238593
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