How to be a caregiver and not lose yourself in the process

Depression is a mental illness that can affect anyone. Many people with symptoms of depression don’t describe themselves as feeling depressed. Some people don’t recognize the symptoms in themselves, while others may have a hard time admitting they feel depressed. Caregivers often spend hours caring for their loved ones, and this can be difficult to manage when you are also dealing with your own struggles with depression.

In order to not lose yourself in the process of caregiving, it important to first recognize some of the possible symptoms of depression. These symptoms could include:

• Feeling hopeless or sad

• Too much sleep or not enough (and or changes in sleep patterns)

• Change in eating habits (weight gain or loss) 

• Lack of motivation

• Increased alcohol or drug usage

• Neglected physical appearance 

• Thoughts of suicide and/or running away

• Chronic issues such as headaches, stomach issues, back pain

The best course of action is to seek help if you think you may suffer from some of the symptoms listed above. Seeking out a mental health professional, such as a licensed therapist, psychologist or social worker who can help determine the severity of depression and create a treatment plan is a proactive approach to good mental health. 

Depression doesn’t just affect the person living with it; it can impact the entire family. In addition, when taking care of someone else who has symptoms of depression, it is important to take care of yourself first:

• Get enough sleep

• Eat healthily 

• Check out support groups

• Consider alternative to drug treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation

• Exercise (30-45 minutes of exercise are linked to reducing symptoms of depression)

• Light therapy which impacts brain chemicals which are linked to mood, sleep and depression) 


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