Caregiving can sometimes be a depressing venture.
Not only does it usually involve someone we love deteriorating
before our eyes, our own lives become completely rearranged.
Believe it or not, the fact that the holidays are right around the
corner can make even those not in a caregiving situation depressed.
Imagine what that does to a caregiver.
Depression can range from feeling a little blue to obsessing about
death and suicide. It is not
just a single disorder, but a group of psychiatric illnesses.
This group of illnesses may affect your body and mind, and your
mood and behavior. Although
it is a serious condition, it is very treatable.
Two symptoms to watch out for, and that doctors watch out for, are
a loss of pleasure in daily activities and continuous feelings of
hopelessness and sadness. Women
have a 50% greater chance of being diagnosed with depression and some
types of depression may run in families.
The three most common types of depression are major depression,
dysthymia, and bipolar disorder. Major
depression may have many symptoms that affect a personís ability to
carry out necessary everyday activities such as eating, working and
sleeping. Other once-pleasurable activities seem insurmountable.
A person can usually go on from day to day, but may have a
ďdisabling episodeĒ one or two times in his or her life.
Dysthymia is long term or chronic depressive symptoms.
These symptoms may not be disabling, but usually prevent the person
from felling good and functioning well.
Major depressive episodes may be experienced by people with
Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic-depression, is often a chronic
condition. It causes the
afflicted to experience cycles of depression, mania, lethargy, and
exuberant happiness. These
mood changes are normally rapid and dramatic.
More detailed symptoms of dysthymia and major depression include the
concentration, and decision-making problems
irritable and restless
changes-eating more or less
hopeless and pessimistic
anxious, empty or sad
tired or less energetic
of death and suicide or even attempting suicide
the ability to enjoy activities that used to be enjoyed (e.g. sex)
symptoms that donít improved with treatment
In addition to the above episodes of depression, those people afflicted
with bipolar disorder may experience the following manic symptoms as well:
obvious increase in energy
behavior that may be deemed inappropriate
marked increase in talking
not befitting the occasion
that race or are disconnected
increase in sexual desire
Anyone who believes they are depressed should seek the help of a
professional. With a combination of psychotherapy and medication, 80% of
those who are depressed can be helped.
Medications include a variety of mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety
drugs or antidepressants that have helped many people.
The newer drugs have fewer side effects too.
Psychotherapy involves talking to a therapist to resolve problems. Behavioral therapy involves discussing a personís actions
and how they can get more satisfactory and rewarding results from them.
A patient also learns about his or her behavior patterns and how to
ďunlearnĒ the ones that are self-defeating.
A severe form of therapy is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
This is used only when a person canít take the medication or
their depression is so severe that it is life threatening.
If you see any of these signs in yourself or your loved one, seek help
soon. Depression is something
that can become worse over time if not treated. Life
is meant to be enjoyed, in spite of all its hardships. Donít let depression get you down.
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