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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Caregivers and Depression - Signs of Depression

By L. John Mason

I have been a caregiver for over 4 years and I recognize that it is affecting me. I did some research to find the Signs of Depression and found that I have been experiencing many of these challenges. Caregivers need to take good care of themselves. Even with exercise, stress management (relaxation), and proper diet, caregivers can still become overwhelmed by the efforts that they provide.Please take good care of yourself. Get support from friends, family, and even professionals, if you need.Symptoms of depression....

Here's a list of common signs of depression. If these symptoms last for more than two weeks, see your doctor.

- Mental or physical tiredness or lack of energy
- An "empty" feeling, ongoing sadness, and anxiety
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once pleasurable
- Recurrent episodes of crying
- Change in sleep patterns, including very early morning waking, insomnia, or increased need for sleep
- Problems with eating and weight (gain or loss)
- Decreased sex drive or sexual dysfunction
- Thoughts of death or suicide; a suicide attempt
- Aches and pains that just won't go away
- Difficulty focusing, remembering, or making decisions
- Feeling irritable or stressed
- Feeling that the future looks grim; feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless
- Stomach ache and digestive problems

Two hallmarks of depression - symptoms key to establishing a diagnosis
- are :
- Depressed mood. You feel sad, helpless or hopeless, and may have crying spells.
- Loss of interest in normal daily activities. You lose interest in or pleasure from activities that you used to enjoy.

In addition, for a doctor or other health professional to diagnose depression, most of the following signs and symptoms also must be present for at least two weeks.

- Sleep disturbances. Sleeping too much or having problems sleeping can be a sign you're depressed. Waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep are typical.
- Fatigue or slowing of body movements. You feel weariness and lack of energy nearly every day. You may feel as tired in the morning as you did when you went to bed the night before. You may feel like you're doing everything in slow motion, or you may speak in a slow, monotonous tone.
- Low self-esteem. You feel worthless and have excessive guilt.
- Changes in weight. An increased or reduced appetite and unexplained weight gain or loss may indicate depression.
- Agitation. You may seem restless, agitated, irritable and easily annoyed.
- Impaired thinking or concentration. You may have trouble concentrating or making decisions and have problems with memory.
- Less interest in sex. If you were sexually active before developing depression, you may notice a dramatic decrease in your level of interest in having sexual relations.
- Thoughts of death. You have a persistent negative view of yourself, your situation and the future. You may have thoughts of death, dying or suicide.

Depression can also cause a wide variety of physical complaints, such as gastrointestinal problems (indigestion, constipation or diarrhea), headache and backache. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.

Regular exercise, relaxation (stress management), proper sleep (rest), and proper diet can help to lessen the impact of the stress from caregiving. If you require more support, go get it. Avoid "burnout" or worse.

Please take GOOD care of yourself!

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling "Guide to Stress Reduction." Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training.

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