Could These Symptoms Be Depression?

woman in brown crew neck shirt
Recognizing symptoms of depression is not always easy and admitting that you are depressed can be difficult for some people. However, depression is very common among caregivers. The good news is that it is a normal reaction to a tough and demanding situation being primary caregiver for a loved one.

In our society, depression is viewed as a weakness, fault or defect. By ignoring your feelings or denying that they exist won’t make them disappear…or make you feel any better. Depression is a complex disorder that affects more than 200 million individuals globally. According to the Mayo Clinic,¬†depression is “a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest“. It affects how you think, feel and act. Some people feel unhappy but don’t know why.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

Because we are all individuals, depression may not look the same in everyone. But there are some common symptoms that are typically experienced and for 2 weeks or more:

  • Sad, empty, tearful, numb or hopeless feelings
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Physical symptoms (headaches, stomach issues, neck or back pain) that does not go away despite treatment
  • Accelerated use of alcohol or drug consumption
  • Anxiety, agitated, restless, or easily angered

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or related dementia can be overwhelming. There is evidence that shows people caring for a person with dementia is two-times more likely to become depressed. The challenges these caregivers face include problems on their job (calling off), lack of sleep (due to monitoring hoarding and wandering behaviors), less time to do the activities they like to do, increased family conflict (siblings not sharing the responsibility of care). And as the dementia progresses, the more likely the caregiver is to become depressed.

Boy and Girl Cutout DecalsMen vs. Women

Men and women alike, are less likely to admit to depression. But men are less likely to be diagnosed with depression. There can be organic causes for depression in women like childbirth, PMN/Menopause, thyroid disorders or lack of nutritional elements (i.e. iron, Vit D, Omega-3 fatty acids, etc.).

Men are more apt to hire outside help whereas women will not hire so quickly in order to keep from looking like they are inadequate. Men usually don’t have as many friends to disclose how they feel or what they are going through. And they usually don’t have very many activities outside of the home to serve as a healthy distraction of their day-to-day.

If you are a veteran caring for someone with dementia, you are twice as likely to suffer from depression. And should you decide to place your loved one into a care facility, this does not mean the depression will go away. In order to feel normalcy again, you may need to see professional help.

So, You Think You Are Depressed?

Undiagnosed depression is not uncommon, but researchers believe that it can be treated and/or prevented with intervention. In addition to the symptoms mentioned earlier, older adults may experience memory problems or changes in their personalities; wanting to stay home instead of going out and socializing; and loss of interest in sex or eating (that is not caused by any medical condition).

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, please talk to a close friend, call your doctor or mental health professional. It is important to know that you are supported. Here are a couple of resources below:

Family Caregiver Alliance 

800-445-8106

www.caregiver.org


Caregiver Action Network

202-272-5050

www.caregiveraction.org


 

 

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