In the society, the nurturers or the natural caregivers is not considered as a coveted job as compared to high paying jobs or technology savvy positions. It takes an inherent characteristic to put the welfare of others above one’s self unselfishly. Some caregivers have part-time jobs and at the same time spend the time to assist their loved ones.
Research shows that an average of more than 24 hours per week is utilized in helping a family member or loved one. While it is genuinely satisfying and rewarding to take care of a person close to your heart, it can leave the caregivers susceptible to neglect their health. According to a report from Family Caregiver Alliance, 40 to 70 percent of caregivers exhibit symptoms of depression. The exact pathology of depression is still unknown; however, experts agree that brain chemistry, life experiences, and genetics play a role in the development of depression.
“Providing regular support to a friend or a relative can entail a number of responsibilities, which, taken together, can create stress and undermine the health of caregivers,” writes Sandro Galea M.D.
According to a survey done by National Alliance of Caregiving, 60% of caregivers state that their eating diets have worsened. Oftentimes, fast food, ready to eat and processed meals are convenient which caregivers turn to. Research shows that there is a strong connection between consumption of processed grains, sugar-rich drinks and red meat to the likelihood of depression by 41 percent. Always make the time to go for a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy oils, and fish to curb depression.
“Switching to a vegetable-rich whole foods diet can make a dramatic difference in health within a matter of days, and junk food can harm the gut very quickly,” writes Emily Deans M.D.
The stress of taking care of the sick and still maintaining your own life can keep you awake at night. Insomnia is proven to make individual ten time more likely to become depressed. Adequate hour of sleep is also significant as concluded by one study that revealed that people’s mood is affected if the number of rest every night is less than five.
“Whether snapping at a co-worker, getting into a fight with your partner, or losing your cool with your kids, not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood that your emotional responses will be more impulsive and intense,” writes Michael J Breus Ph.D.
Lack of Exercise
It is normal not to be motivated to exercise or go to the gym when you’re a swamp with various responsibilities. With the amount of stress and workload a caregiver is experiencing, a moderate exercise of walking or jogging for about 20 minutes will suffice and believed to lower one’s risk of depression.
Work and Money Concerns
More than 75 percent of caregivers are juggling the demands as caring for a loved one and career. Oftentimes, the caregiver is also the provider. Depression of caregivers can develop due to the enormous stress associated with the overlapping of duties as a provider and caregiver. Moreover, long-term home care of a sick family member will also entail medical debts. A study on 8,400 adults showed that people who are in debt, losing a job or in the process of losing a job have symptoms of depression.
It is so much easier if sick people are appreciative and loving towards their caregivers, but in reality, people who are suffering are also going through inner turmoil and can be argumentative, impatient, frustrated and angry about their situation. An environment filled with angry outbursts and other disruptive behavior is conducive to depression.
Caregivers are vulnerable to developing health and mental problems due to stress and lack of support system. Caring for a loved one and providing for the family is a responsibility that should be divided by the family members to ensure that the well-being of each and every one is not neglected.