Depression is common among caregivers as they witness the steady and progressive decline of their care receivers. Caregiver depression can result from stuffing feelings of anger and guilt. It can be difficult to distinguish between depression and grief because the symptoms are similar. Headaches, backaches, digestive disorders, and other physical ailments are often symptoms of caregiver depression and grief.
As caregivers witness the decline of someone they love and as their own lives become more complicated, restrictive, and reclusive, it’s not unusual for them to experience depression. There isn’t one single cause of depression among caregivers, or even just one type of depression. It isn’t unusual for someone who is caregiving to experience both reactionary depression and clinical depression.
In this module of the CaregiverHelp Support Group Program, Elaine Sanchez illustrates how Reactionary Depression can be caused by a specific event or set of circumstances.
Signs of depression can include difficulty sleeping, change in eating habits, inability to concentrate, and difficulty making decisions, along with a variety of physical ailments including headaches, backaches, difficulty sleeping, and various digestive disorders. The good news is that you can work your way through an episode of reactionary depression with conscious effort and a little time.
Clinical depression is different. It is a medical condition that requires medical treatment. Signs of clinical depression are a sense of hopelessness and despondency, an inability to imagine anything positive happening in the future and a feeling that you’re on a downward slide with no exit ramp.
People who are suffering with clinical depression tend to have recurring thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you care about experiences these signs and symptoms of clinical depression for more than two weeks, you must seek medical intervention. You cannot eat, smoke, drink, think, talk or pray your way out of clinical depression. It is a medical problem, and recovery requires medication and other interventions.
If you know someone who appears to be clinically depressed, it’s important to understand that they may not be capable of reaching out for help. You may need to make an appointment with their physician, drive them to the appointment, and then tell the doctor what you have witnessed.
Depression is a horribly debilitating condition, and it is excruciatingly lonely. Try to be patient, but don’t let their inertia or their resistance stop you from seeking the medical help they need.