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Stress And Depression
Caregivers Beware

Stress and depression can often go hand in hand, one leading to the other and vice versa.

Although there are many situations that can be a cause of such a cycle to begin, for this article the main focus is on caregivers.

For many of thousands of people around the world who are unpaid caregivers to a family member, stress can indeed be a daily occurrence, especially for those who care for someone with dementia.

Dementia is a terrible illness, one that strips a person of their personality and brings added behavioral problems, which can be overwhelming for an un-trained caregiver. These constant pressures can lead to depression and even breakdown if not addressed early on.

The main causes of stress for a caregiver are often listed as:

  • Financial pressures due to being an unwaged carer, receiving only minimal or no benefits.
stress and depression for caregivers picture by Genista flickr.com
  • Coping with sometimes aggressive or violent behavioural issues from the patient. In many cases the caregiver is reluctant to tell anyone about these problems and so in the long run this can easily lead to a build up of stress and anxiety.

  • Not receiving enough help from family or friends on a regular basis, leaving them with a feeling of isolation. Often family conflict can arise due to the reluctance of other family members to help.

  • The sheer amount of time and effort that is required to provide care on a daily basis. Leaving little time for themselves.

As you can see there are many causes of stress which can quite easily lead onto depression. It is quite understandable that this occurs and is indeed a natural reaction that could affect anyone. However without proper help this build of stress and depression can lead to far more serious consequences, such as neglect and even in some extreme cases, abuse.

Preventing Stress And Depression
For The Caregiver

There are several things which can be done to help caregivers both before and while they are experiencing stress, such as:

  • Provision of formal training for the carer. The training should cover the different symptoms which may present themselves and how to cope with them if and when they arise. As they say forearmed is forewarned.

  • Make sure that there are regular family meetings and updates to enable the caregiver to feel supported and also receive help sooner rather than later when the stress may have already begun to cause depression.

  • Arrange where possible for the patient to have days at a day centre or in some cases over night from time to time. This will give the carer a break and time to relax. These breaks can also be good for the patient who will be able to join in new activities and at the very least receive new stimuli.

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