Caring for a loved one that suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or another chronic lung disease is extremely beneficial to their treatment, however, the constant stresses and pressures placed on you on a daily basis can really begin to take a toll on you. Often times caregivers develop moderate to serious depression from the constant pressure of having to deal with the physical and mental demands of helping their loved one everyday.
Understanding Depression as a Caregiver
There are two things to remember when you're a caregiver dealing with depression:
- First thing is not all caregivers will develop depression
- Secondly, caring for your loved one is NOT the cause of your depression.
Throughout your day to day routine of cooking, cleaning, running errands, and caring for your COPD ridden loved one you often forget about yourself. The toll that these multiple roles take on your well being begin to pile up due to the constant need to sacrifice your emotional and physical needs in exchange for your loved one's.
Now that doesn't mean that if you experience a few bad days here and there that you are suffering from depression, because a bad day here and there is just apart of life. However, if you experience 5 of the following symptoms within a 2 week period you should speak with your doctor about possible treatments for depression.
- Decrease in energy or fatigued everyday
- Significant weight loss when not on a diet
- Excessive weight gain
- Loss or decrease in appetite nearly everyday
- Feelings of being worthless frequently
- Trouble thinking or concentrating on daily tasks
- Loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy
- Thoughts of suicide or death, if you experience any of these thoughts make sure to speak with your doctor right away
- Depressed mood or feeling empty inside on a daily basis
- All you want to do is sleep
Treating Caregiver Depression
The most important thing to do if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of depression, is to speak with your doctor right away. Depression isn't something as simple as a mood change, in fact if left untreated depression can further burden your life slowly decreasing your outlook on life, and maybe even in your loved one. Depression isn't something you should nor have to go at alone, in addition to prescribed medications there are a few tips you can do at home to help you better deal with your depression.
- Pull out family photos that will remind you of fun and happy times with the ones you love, these positive thoughts will drain out the negative ones. As you treat depression less negative thoughts will occur.
- Make a small list of errands you need to accomplish for that day, completing what you can.
- divide larger tasks into smaller portions.
- Aim to get on a daily exercise routine
- Catch a movie with close friends
- Avoid making life impacting decisions until your depression has passed
- Ask friends and family to help
Reducing the Risk of Caregiver Depression
There are a few mood lifting tips that you can use if you are ever feeling sad, lonely, or angry that can help prevent these feelings from progressing into depression.
- Keep a Positive Attitude: Whenever you are feeling down, just remember that you are helping your loved one live the highest quality of life they can with COPD. What you are doing is impacting another's life for the better.
- Keep a Journal: Any emotions you may be feeling write them down and express them in a journal, this can help relieve anger, sadness, stress, and other emotions which will greatly improve your mood.
- Ask Family Members for Help: If possible ask family members to help care for your loved one, this will help spread out responsibilities taking a lot of stress and pressure off of you.