How Caregivers Can Overcome the Unwanted New Year Anxiety and Depression
With the winter months comes the excitement of Christmas and the anticipation of the New Year; many of us though, particularly caregivers are overcome with the sadness, loneliness or anger.
Could these be warning signs of depression? Possibly so.
It’s not unusual for family caregivers to develop anxiety and depression when facing the demands of caring for a loved one. If you are feeling any of these emotions, it is ok. Feeling this way does not make you a bad person or any less capable of being a loving caregiver.
In an effort to provide the best care for a family member or friend, caregivers often sacrifice their own physical and emotional care and the emotional and physical experiences involved with providing care can strain even the most capable person. The feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, isolation,
exhaustion—and then guilt for having these feelings—can exact a heavy toll.
So, what does depression look like?
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing depression and I encourage you to seek help.
- Unwanted weight loss or gain
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Feeling tired, even after a full nights rest
- Loss of interest in people and activities that you once greatly enjoyed
- Ongoing headaches
- Easily agitated
While there are medications to treat depression, I encourage you to take a more holistic approach first.
Physical exercise can work miracles, releasing those feel good endorphins, a 30 minute walk a few times a week can help to curb the effects of depression.
Over the counter herb, St. John’s wort, is a natural way to improve mood and can have great results when taken to help battle depression.
I also encourage you to get out of the house and spend time on you, without allowing yourself to feel guilty. If you can, get a massage, go to dinner with a friend whom you can share your feelings with or just find a quite spot to meditate a journal.
For those of us that aren’t currently caregiving, but know of those that are, I encourage you to reach out to that person. People often are able to get up and out of the house with a smile on their faces, but on the inside, they are falling apart. If you are able, give them a call and talk with them for a while. Make little extra for dinner tonight and take it over to them. Mark a date on the calendar to go over and care for their loved one so that they can have time to go out or even nap.
You never know how the smallest gesture can make the biggest impact.
For more tips such as these, tune into Caregiver Crossing this and every Saturday morning from 7-8am on 93.1 WIBC. Caregiver Crossing is a service of Joy’s House and was created as a weekly on-air support group for family caregivers and those of us who one day will be. We would love to have you join us.