Diseases such as cancer and AIDS get national attention on almost a daily basis. On the other hand, caregiver depression gets little or no recognition for the health crisis that it is.
One report cautiously estimates that nearly 20 percent of family caregivers suffer from depression, while other experts claim the rate is much higher. According to research conducted by Yale University, about one in four family caregivers meet the clinical criteria for anxiety, while nearly one-third of those who care for the terminally ill suffer from depression.
Why are caregivers so susceptible to depression? And how can homecare software help?
As we mentioned in our recent post “Emotional Support: The Key to Coping,” caregivers face a variety of emotions on a daily basis. Combined with the stressful responsibilities of caregiving, this emotional roller coaster takes a significant toll on virtually every aspect of a caregiver’s life.
Although caregiving itself does not cause depression, the very nature of being a caregiver often means sacrificing personal health and happiness. Women, primarily wives and daughters, provide the majority of caregiving in the United States. Although more than 12 million women experience clinical depression each year, many more suffer silently. 41 percent of women surveyed by the National Mental Health Association admitted they do not seek treatment for depression because of embarrassment or shame.
Symptoms of Caregiver Depression
Everyone experiences depression in different ways, but common symptoms include:
1. Feeling tired all of the time
2. Changes in eating habits resulting in weight loss or gain
3. Sleeping too little or too much
4. Thoughts of death or committing suicide
5. Loss of interest in favorite pastimes
6. Social withdrawal
7. Becoming irritated or agitated easily
8. Feeling sad, hopeless or worthless
Rather than viewing these feelings as a sign of weakness, it’s critically important you recognize your body’s way of telling you there is need for change. The emotional and physical strain of elder care affects even the most capable of individuals. Ignoring feelings of depression will not make them go away, so take steps now to improve your situation.
The Importance of Reaching Out
Would you consider a person with cancer who seeks medical treatment weak? Of course not. Neither should you view treatments for depression as anything but necessary for good health.
In addition to medical treatments, there are other ways to treat (or prevent) depression. Joining a support group, enjoying regular recreation, and getting sufficient exercise are all good ways to combat feelings of depression, but these may not be enough. Hiring additional help to lighten your caregiving load may be the best way to avoid depression.
Numerous caregivers have reached out to homecare agencies that utilize ClearCare’s caregiver software, finding this to be the ideal way to reduce stress and feelings of depression. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends caregivers assume a reasonable amount of responsibility. Most caregivers would agree they take on much more responsibility than is reasonable for one person. So when you’ve recognized that you have exceeded your personal limit, ClearCare is here and ready to help.