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 know how to prevent it. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Caregiving is often physically and emotionally stressful. In an effort 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. Sometimes, these emotions can trigger caregiver depression.

What are the symptoms of caregiver depression?

Everyone has a bad day sometimes. However, to be diagnosed with depression — also called major depression — you must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period. At least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure. Symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, such as feeling sad, empty or tearful
  • Diminished interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities most of the day, nearly every day
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  • Insomnia or increased desire to sleep nearly every day
  • Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • Trouble making decisions, or trouble thinking or concentrating nearly every day
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a suicide attempt
Aug. 02, 2013 See more In-depth