I know. Depression is “biological.” But, it seems odd to me that caregivers are more likely to be depressed than the general population. Why? Is caregiving biological? No. I think some depression is for a good reason or is certainly triggered by a real life event.
I can speculate why caregivers may be more prone to depression. Some people may start to feel hopeless in a prolonged caregiving situation. We can change our lives for a brief time to help others - but when it goes on longer than a few weeks, it can start to feel like a life change that we did not plan. This can be stressful and disrupt our normal coping strategies. There is also evidence that when the days get shorter, a lack of sunlight can trigger a depressed mood - so the topic is timely as we enter late fall.
One thing you can do is to know the signs of depression. Things that signal a true depression are changes in sleep and/or changes in appetite. See our depression assessment if you think you or a loved one is depressed. This is not meant to diagnose depression, but rather is used as a screening. If you are not sure, you should check with a doctor.
If you think you are depressed, what can you do? Exercise has been shown over and over again to lift a low mood. This can be easy like walking a little every day. Sunlight, fresh air and movement seem to break up a blue funk. Also, get some kind of break – even if small - and use that time doing something you enjoy. Depressed people often don’t get enough enjoyment in their lives. Go to a play, visit a good friend who makes you laugh, read a good book, take a bath, or start a project you have been meaning to get to. If it seems like it is more than just the blues, see a doctor. I know many people have reported that medical treatment works.
The best thing to do is to break out of it sooner rather than later. If you or your love one seem to have signs of depression, take action today.