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Dementia Caregiving: Is Depression Hitting You?

Posted Feb 03 2011 12:00am

We've mentioned the topic of depression before but with the winter upon us, we need to check in on this serious concern.  

The Family Caregiver Alliance has reported that up to 40% of all caregivers suffer from depression.  That is a staggering statistic!  In addition, Maria Shriver (who just lost her dad, Sargent Shriver, to Alzheimer's disease) has a new report called, " A Woman's Nation Takes On Alzheimer's " which mentions research demonstrating that dementia caregivers have increased risk of having high stress hormones, less active immune function and have a greater chance of developing heart disease.  Not only that, the report cites that almost half of all dementia caregivers have marital or family relationships that are strained.

I know you've heard these bleak statistics before but if you are reading this and have some of the depression symptoms below, you will benefit by seeing your health professional.  I know when my mom was unable to live in her home anymore due to her dementia, friends and family helped me see that I had to do something for my depression.  I am so glad listened to them because I was planning to just drag myself along because I was too busy dealing with everything but myself.  Here are some classic symptoms of depression:

  • Changes in eating patterns--eating very little or too much
  • Feeling helpless, overwhelmed or hopeless
  • Focus on daily tasks seems harder than usual
  • Sleep patterns changed--sleeping too much or waking up very early
  • Negative thinking
  • Losing patience with others and increased irritability
  • Any thoughts of suicide (if you have any suicidal thoughts, you need immediate help)

Where do you fit in on this scale? If you are feeling that you may have some of these symptoms but not ready to take action, why not ask a close family member or friend to review the list with you in mind and give you their honest opinion.  It may be the smartest thing you've done for yourself.

Let us know how you are doing out there...depression is serious and we need to support each other.

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