It’s natural to feel stressed when you’re taking care of a loved one. Sometimes, stress can lead to — or be a symptom of — depression. There are treatments that can help.
Here are some signs to watch for that might show you’re getting depressed:
- An “empty” feeling, ongoing sadness, and anxiety
- Lack of energy
- Loss of pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Sexual problems or a drop in your sex drive
- Change in sleep patterns, such as waking up earlier than normal in the morning, trouble getting to sleep, or needing more sleep
- Weight gain or loss
- Regular episodes of crying
- Aches and pains that won’t go away
- Trouble staying focused, remembering, or making decisions
- Grim feelings about the future
- Feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless
- Feeling irritable or stressed
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Stomachache and digestive problems
If you feel overwhelmed by your caregiving tasks, or notice any changes in your health, thinking, or behavior, or if the symptoms above last for more than 2 weeks, see your doctor.
Your doctor may treat your depression with antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
If you talk to a psychotherapist, s/he will help you focus on the behaviors, emotions, and ideas that are contributing to your depression. During your sessions with a therapist, you’ll learn to identify the problems or situations that may be affecting your mental health. You’ll then figure out which of these problems can be solved and improved. It will allow you to regain a sense of control and pleasure in life.
The Parkinson’s Association is the only organization that offers professional Parkinson’s-specific counseling for care partners, family members and, of course, the person with Parkinson’s. We accept all major insurance plans. Call for an appointment.
You need to take care of your own health so you can take care of your loved one. There are a few practical steps you can take to prevent depression:
- Get regular exercise
- Eat a balanced diet
- Get enough sleep
- Participate in care partner support groups
- Find someone who can step in and give you a break