Prioritizing Mental Health as a Universal Human Right
By: Neltada Charlemagne, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, PHN, BHC
Those being cared for can have a hard time adjusting to their new circumstances. Illness, injury or just the process of aging can all play a part in their feeling low.
Watching someone physically and emotionally decline can be challenging. As a caregiver, you want to monitor their mood and protect their health and safety so they can experience a good quality of life.
If you’re a caregiver in need of advice on how to manage depression, read on to learn 5 ways to help your loved one.
Depression comes in many forms. There are several ways to tell if someone is depressed. However, those suffering from depression will usually experience and exhibit symptoms that will be noticeable, consistent, and out of character from their usual behavior.
Some common signs of depression include sadness, feelings of despondency and hopelessness. There may be an overall sentiment that nothing is worth doing. They may feel that life is not worth living, or that they have nothing to look forward to.
Other signs can include excessive crying or crying for seemingly no reason. They may also experience outbursts of frustration or anger over issues they wouldn’t typically get upset over.
Often times, people sinking into a depression become agitated and irritable at little things. They can also experience a loss of appetite or extreme tiredness and a desire to spend more time sleeping than usual.
Trouble focusing or concentrating on specific tasks, trouble getting their thoughts across, anxiety or restlessness can also be symptoms to watch.
On the physical side, if you notice unexplained ailments or body issues that don’t seem to make sense, this could also be a symptom of depression since oftentimes emotional pain can manifest into physical problems.
Getting your loved one to acknowledge they’re suffering isn’t always the easiest task. It’s not uncommon for those suffering from depression to be unaware of their symptoms or believe they’re behaving normally.
This is especially true if someone is already suffering from a physical limitation or illness. They may just believe that the way they’re feeling is because of their new circumstance, and that there’s nothing that can be done.
You can be helpful by talking to them and encouraging them to seek treatment. Unfortunately, there’s often still stigma attached to mental health problems and a need to see a therapist, take medication or receive the necessary treatment.
Asking for help can be scary and many people don’t know where to begin. They may try to deal with their symptoms on their own before seeking medical attention, but this rarely works. When people sink into a deep depression, it will take the help of professionals and perhaps even medication to get them better.
Talking to your loved one can be awkward. You don’t want to put them on the defensive. You want them to know that everything you’re saying is coming from a place of love and concern.
This can be accomplished by simply sharing your observations with them. Don’t approach it from an “intervention” or accusatory point of view. Tell them what you’re observing, and ask if they’ve noticed it too.
Offer to help them find a doctor or a therapist. Schedule an appointment for them with their general practitioner. This doctor can suggest a specialist and be a point of guidance for where to go next for treatment.
After you suggest treatment and move your loved one toward getting help, the best thing you can do is be patient and supportive of their journey.
Managing and overcoming depression won’t happen overnight. It will likely be a lengthy and involved process with some setbacks along the way. It’s good to mentally prepare yourself as well so you don’t become frustrated if you fail to see the kind of progress you were hoping for.
You can also share this information with your loved one, so they can manage their expectations about their own recovery and stick to their regiment without feeling defeated.
Remind them that they’re not alone and that you’re there for them. Ask if they want to talk about their feelings, or about their day or if they simply want some company. These small gestures can go a long way when it comes to being a supportive and compassionate caregiver to someone with depression.
Remind them that these feelings won’t last forever. People come out the other side of a depressive episode and your loved one should too. They just need you to believe it and believe in them.
One of your biggest jobs as a caregiver to someone suffering from depression is to be sure it doesn’t worsen. Watch for signs of suicide.
This includes any suicidal thoughts they share with you or even a past history of suicide attempts. If you are fearful for the well-being of your loved one and if they live alone, you should call Landmark (if they are a Landmark patient) or 9-1-1 at the first sign of a problem.
Have their doctors’ information handy and a way to get into their home without them having to answer the door. You should also speak to a neighbor or someone who lives close by who can go check on them if you live farther away.
Caring for a loved one can be an exhausting and all-encompassing experience. But caring for someone who is depressed can be an even bigger challenge. Remember to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically.
Talk to other people in your life about what you’re dealing with, see a therapist yourself, exercise, eat well and do whatever you can to practice self-care. Not only will this protect you, but it will also make you a better caregiver to your loved one.
We know you want to help your loved one and alleviate their pain. This depression advice can be a guide to doing just that.
Remember to listen to them and treat them with dignity and respect. Talk to them and remind them you’re there no matter what.
Learn more about Landmark and our services today.
The information provided herein is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
By: Neltada Charlemagne, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, PHN, BHC
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