Feelings of discouragement or despair are not uncommon for family caregivers.
Witnessing the decline of your loved one can be an intensely uncomfortable and sad process for even the most capable and resourceful of people. It becomes a mental burden when constantly thinking about the nature of your parents’ or spouse’s changing condition, while wondering how you’ll manage to keep them as healthy, comfortable, and dignified as possible. There have likely been some significant changes in your relationship with this person, and your Dad or husband may no longer be a steady source of friendship, support, and inspiration as they once were. The ongoing mental strain that comes with being in this challenging situation- the sadness, worry, guilt, or uncertainty about the future, accompanied by a personal habit of overdoing the negative thinking, can lead to bouts of depression in caregivers. The experience of depression may not be a locked-in mental health diagnosis for you; it is more likely your body’s response to the many challenges and sorrows you have encountered in your caring role.
This post is a brief look at how depression is quite a common experience for caregivers- and to let you know you’re not “crazy” or “unskilled” in some way.
You’re definitely not alone. It is understandable that, given the long list of tasks you’re responsible for, some of the time you might feel utterly exhausted, down and blue. It is important to keep track of when you’re feeling depressed, so you can tell how often, and for what length of time you’re feeling this way. Keeping track of how persistent your symptoms are will help you gauge when it’s time to reach out for help from a trusted professional.
Feed your curiosity.
Try being curious about what depression could feel like in your body and mind. You might be surprised as to how it shows up- when you think you’re simply feeling tired or ill at ease, there may be a number of mental and physical signs that point to a bout of depression.
A few signs of depression:
‘I’m a failure’
‘I’m no good’
‘This is my fault’
‘Things will never get better’
tired all the time
sick and run down
headaches and muscle pains
Symptom list sourced from :https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/signs-and-symptoms
Ways to lift your mood
Make a plan to get outside. Even on the dreary, rainy days it’s good to breathe some fresh air into your lungs. The presence of natural light and looking at gardens and trees is incredibly mood boosting.
Be compassionate with yourself. Acknowledge that you’re having a hard day or week. Tell a friend about it or write it down, and after a few minutes of expressing your feelings, focus on another activity that gives you positive energy.
Create a meal plan for the week. Think about foods that are simple to prepare, and tasty meals that will give you good nutrients without feeling too fussy to pull off.
Tickle your funny bone. Spend 15 minutes watching your favourite comedian, or call a friend that makes you laugh. Read funny jokes and cartoons in the paper. Laughter recharges both the physical and mental energy, and releases tension you may not realize you’ve been carrying.
If you find yourself feeling depressed on a regular basis, I encourage you to get some extra support. A little help can go a long way, and having a trustworthy, kind, and consistent professional or loved one who is there for you can make a ton of difference.