What can I do if I develop caregiver depression?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of caregiver depression, consult your doctor or a mental health provider. Depression isn't something you can simply "snap out" of — and left untreated, depression can lead to various emotional and physical problems. It can also affect the quality of care you're able to provide for your loved one. However, most people who have depression feel better with the help of medication, psychological counseling or other treatment.

What can I do to prevent caregiver depression?

You can take active steps to prevent caregiver depression. For example:

  • Reach out for help. Don't wait until you feel overwhelmed to ask for help caring for a loved one. If possible, get your whole family involved in planning and providing care. Seek out respite services and a caregiver support group. A support network can keep you from feeling isolated, depleted and depressed.
  • Remember other relationships. Caregiving can take time away from replenishing personal relationships — but showing loved ones and friends you care about them can give you strength and hope.
  • Start a journal. Journaling can improve your mood by allowing you to express pain, anger, fear or other emotions.
  • Take time for yourself. Participate in activities that allow you to relax and have fun. Go to a movie, watch a ballgame, or attend a birthday party or religious gathering. Physical activity and meditation also can help reduce stress.
  • Stay positive. Caregiving allows you to give something back and make a difference in your loved one's life. Caregiving might also have spiritual meaning for you. Focus on these positive aspects of caregiving to help prevent depression.

Remember, if you think you're depressed, seek help. Proper treatment can help you feel your best.

Aug. 02, 2013 See more In-depth