Caregiver depression: Prevention counts
Caregiver depression can take a toll on you and your ability to care for your loved one. Understand the signs of caregiver depression — and how to prevent it.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Caregiving can be physically and emotionally stressful. To provide the best care possible, you might put your loved one's needs before your own. In turn, you could develop feelings of sadness, anger and loneliness, as well as guilt. Sometimes, these emotions trigger caregiver depression.
What are the symptoms of caregiver depression?
Everyone has a bad day sometimes. However, depression is more than just a bout of the blues. It is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. During an episode of depression, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and might include:
July 22, 2016
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and a lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren't your responsibility
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
See more In-depth
- Depression and caregiving. Family Caregiver Alliance. https://www.caregiver.org/depression-and-caregiving. Accessed June 28, 2016.
- Mace NL, et al. How caring for a person who has dementia affects you. In: The 36-Hour Day. 5th ed. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press; 2011:222.
- Caregiver depression. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-caregiver-depression.asp. Accessed June 28, 2016.
- Peterson DM. The benefits and risks of exercise. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 28, 2016.
- Depressive disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed June 28, 2016.