Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Depression Hurts Everyone in the Family

Caregivers of dementia patients have a high rate of depression. One survey by Caring.com puts the number at 25 percent, while the Alzheimer’s Association’s most recent report puts that figure at 33 percent.

At some point in the journey, caregivers become overwhelmed with their current circumstances. Sometimes that continuous worry leads to stress, and that unabated stress can become depression. This, of course, has an impact on the level of care they can provide to their memory-impaired spouse or parent. But what isn’t typically talked about in this context is the toll untreated depression can have on the caregivers’ children. This is particularly true of adult children who are caring for a parent while being a parent to younger children.

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, untreated depression in mothers and fathers can lead to a similar condition in their children.

"These findings should alert us. If you have the disease, get into treatment, because it can have a big impact on your family," says psychiatrist Madhukar Trivedi from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, a co-author of the study. Only about half of people who fit the criteria for major depression get treatment, he says.

The George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers began in 1982 to help caregivers cope with their daily stress by offering a place for their loved one to socialize and be supervised for a few hours or a full day. And while the WSJ piece focuses on post-partum depression, a similar condition can develop with those caring for memory-impaired elders. If some of the following symptoms last more than two weeks, you should seek professional help – if not for your own good, then for your family’s.

• Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
• Irritation and agitation
• Inability to sleep well
• Constant fatigue
• Loss of interest in normally fun activities
• Decrease or increase in appetite or weight
• Suicidal thoughts or actions

Alzheimer's Caregivers Biggest Health Risk
Alzheimer's Caregivers' Heavy Toll

No comments: