AGING AND LONG-TERM SUPPORT ADMINISTRATION
As a caregiver, you and/or the person you care for can experience sadness and depression. Depression can affect your thoughts, feelings, physical health, and behaviors.
It is important to be aware of and recognize signs of depression – both for yourself and your loved one. If there are signs of depression for more than two weeks, medical attention is needed.
What Causes Depression?
There are still many myths about depression. Depression is a medical illness, not a normal part of aging or something you can “snap out of”.
Depression in older adults can be caused by poor health, medication side effects, lack of sleep, chemical imbalance, illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's or arthritis, or triggered by a major loss or life change.
Depression for caregivers can result from the same things. In addition, the added stresses of caregiving such as watching your loved one decline or suffer, lack of sleep, or social isolation can also cause depression.
Untreated depression can increase memory problems and be confused with dementia or make other illnesses hard to diagnose or worse.
Untreated depression can also lead to suicide. Any thoughts or talk about suicide should be taken seriously and immediate action taken.
Depression deserves to be treated with the same attention as any other illness. The first step in getting help is to make an appointment with your doctor and/or a mental health professional.
Counseling for depression may also be useful. For information about counseling services in your area, contact your local Family Caregiver Support Program.
- Depression in Later Life: Recognition and Treatment, by Vicki L. Schmall, LaJean Lawson, and Ruth Stiehl.
- Caregiving and Depression from the Family Caregiver Alliance.
This website has several links to help. Learn more about: