Caregiver Depression

reducing caregiver stressIt is painful to care for others while you are grieving the loss of what was and what used to be. It can be even more painful to witness firsthand the suffering your loved ones are experiencing while they are impacted by loss of mobility, memory, cognitive functioning, and declines in physical and mental capabilities.

Various forms of grief are present. For example, learning about a terminal illness can bring up anticipatory grief, as one begins to grieve before the loss. The shock of the diagnosis can be difficult as reality sets in. Those who are generally optimistic cling to hope and lean on support as they hope for the best… hope for a cure, hope for improvement in functioning, hope for a miracle. It can take time before coming to acceptance of where things are at, acceptance of what is, and the reality of acceptance of things within and not within your control.

Ambiguous loss of often present when caretaking for those with chronic medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia since the loss of aspects of the person is felt, even those the person is still present physically.

  • According to caregiver statistics, approximately 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • Approximately 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or a form of dementia. [Alzheimer’s Association. (2015). 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.]

Caretaking for a person with significant health-related needs can take its toll on mental health. The caregiver will experience a variety of thoughts and emotions while conditions such as Alzheimer’s progress. Underlying feelings such as anger, resentment, and abandonment may come to the surface, especially when caregiving for a spouse or partner who demands a significant time commitment, and the caregiver has limited resources for respite. You may find yourself becoming angry at people and sources of support that were once your strong foundation that is now shaken by suffering.

There may be conflicting feelings—loving the person and wanting them in your life but also having strong negative feelings and secretly wishing they were no longer in your life. Guilt can quickly set in along with questioning, regrets, and sadness. Anxiety and depression are often experienced. The cumulative impact of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion from caretaking can result in caregiver burnout.

Signs that you may be depressed include decreased interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy, frequent sad and crying, withdrawal from others, feelings of hopelessness experiencing changes in sleep, appetite, and activity levels, feelings of fatigue, emotional heaviness, and suicidal thoughts. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or are concerned that your feelings may harm the recipience of caretaking, please reach out for professional help and access your local crisis resources, including the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988.

It can be incredibly powerful to connect with people and supports who share values and experiences while you are caring for a loved one with chronic medical conditions. This includes family, friends, your local community, faith-based communities, spiritual resources, mental health support, and the medical community.

Check out some of the resources below for information related to specific medical conditions.

American Cancer Society:

American Heart Association:

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America:

The ALS Association:

Parkinson’s Foundation:

American Stroke Foundation:

National Multiple Sclerosis Society:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

Recharging Your Self-Care Battery: Support for Caregivers

Each person has their limits as a caregiver. The work can be emotionally and physically exhausting, especially as you expend energy. If you do not have opportunities to “recharge”, you will become depleted.

Summer De-Stressing with a Therapist

Teachers, professors, school administrators, student support… those who directly interact with children in an educational setting know the joys and challenges that are present at the end of the school year.

7 Reasons Summer

School is out and summer is right around the corner. The responsibilities and pressures of many young people look very different this time of year. Students may seem happier and more relaxed, as stress lessens, and emotions appear regulated. However, adolescents and young adults may struggle to adjust and engage in maladaptive coping strategies.
broken plate

Broken, Yet Whole

If your life can be best described as “a mess” and you feel like your sense of self is shattered, there is hope.

The Power of Explanatory Styles

Often the everyday moments in the present do not get much attention, while regrets of the past and worries of the future take center stage. You may miss out on a big chunk of life when it is hard to move forward.

10th Anniversary: Announcing our 10th Location

2024 is an extra special year. CARE Counseling is celebrating our 10th anniversary as a clinic and we are opening our 10th location in the Woodbury area!
Mental Health Factors Impacting Celebrations

Mental Health Factors Impacting Celebrations

Celebrations often come up in therapy due to having a mixed range of emotional experiences on celebratory dates depending on the person.
Understanding CARE Coordination

Understanding CARE Coordination

Care coordination is an important aspect of your treatment; understanding this service can help ensure you receive the best care possible.
gaining independence

Gaining Independence and Finding Yourself After Being in an Unhealthy Relationship

It can be hard to adjust to a new norm after relationships end. It can also be tough to cope with the thoughts and feelings that come up after no longer being in a relationship you didn’t think would ever end.
Death Anxiety (Thanatophobia)

Death Anxiety (Thanatophobia)

While fear of death is a common existential fear, some people have intense fears of themselves or a loved one dying. An extreme fear of death or the dying process, known as thanatophobia is considered as a specific fear, or phobia that is under the broader category of anxiety disorders.
Understanding Fear: Questions to Ask Yourself

Understanding Fear: Questions to Ask Yourself

If you are experiencing significant discomfort or find that there are things that you want to do, but are unable to do because of fear, then talking with a mental health specialist is recommended. Fear that becomes persistent can take a toll on both your physical and mental health, so it is important to take preventative measures.
Sexual Violence Prevention

Sexual Violence Prevention

What (or who) do you turn to amid suffering? How about when faced with situations that seem beyond your own control? As strong as you are, you may feel weak or helpless. Adverse childhood experiences, community violence, and sexual violence are just a few of many serious public health problems that impact communities.
The Importance of Learning about Trauma (Psychoeducation) for All Ages

The Importance of Learning about Trauma (Psychoeducation) for All Ages

Psychoeducation can be provided in many forms including printed and web-based materials such as facts sheets, psychoeducational videos, books, and conversations with professionals in the field. Hearing stories from those who have experienced similar events can also be helpful. All these methods help normalize the reactions to traumatic events and can reduce feelings of guilt and shame through sharing of information and common experiences.
Learning How to Love Yourself & Living with Bipolar Disorder

Learning How to Love Yourself & Living with Bipolar Disorder

Did you know that seeking help for your mental health is an act of self-love? While bipolar can significantly impair functioning, many individuals are living with bipolar disorder and thriving!
3 LGBTQ Hotlines You Need To Know

3 LGBTQ Hotlines You Need to Know

Having access to resources to help deescalate emotional distress and manage (or prevent) states of crisis can help empower individuals to take control over their mental health and well-being.
Providing Affirmative Mental Healthcare: 6 Things You Should Know blog cover photo rainbow sky with two hands reaching out

Providing Affirmative Mental Healthcare: 6 Things You Should Know

Healthcare professionals play a necessary role in supporting the LBGTQ+ community, by providing affirmative relationships that don’t perpetuate attitudes of ignorance or discrimination.
3 ways to help children with school anxiety blog cover image school auditorium lecture hall

3 Ways to Help Children with School Anxiety & Somatic Complaints

School refusal and reluctance to go to school due to frequent complaints of aches and pain can be a challenging topic for parents and caregivers to manage.
supporting your gut graphic

Supporting Your Gut “the Second Brain”

If you ever had a “gut feeling” experienced as intuition, “butterflies” feelings of dread, disgust, anticipatory anxiety, or an instinctive urge to respond with action, these are all examples of your brain communicating with your gut.
bullying prevention

Bullying Prevention: The Role of Parents, School Staff, and Adults in the Community

Bullying is among the top concerns for parents, especially related to worries about their child struggling with anxiety, depression, and the fear of suicide.
Talking about women's rights

Talking about Women’s Roles & Rights (Human Rights) in Therapy

It is important to consider the impact of gender and other aspects of identity when exploring discrimination and privilege related to human rights and the emotional, psychological, and social implications on one’s mental health.
Body Appreciation / Body Neutrality

Body Appreciation / Body Neutrality

Reducing body dissatisfaction is an important topic. Oftentimes, one’s self-esteem is tied to physical appearance, with emphasis on body shape and size. How you feel about your body is going to directly impact your thoughts and the choices you make.
Coping with Stress and the Impacts on Eating

Coping with Stress and the Impacts on Eating

We all have our go-to strategies for coping with stress, and some strategies are healthier than others. I’d like to explore each area in detail, and share how certain strategies impact our eating and provide resources for hope.
Consent Before Sexual Activity: 6 Things You Need to Know

Consent Before Sexual Activity: 6 Things You Need to Know

Consent is an agreement of sexual activity, with clear boundaries discussed before, during, and after engaging in sexual behaviors.