I find this to be such an important day, especially for caregivers. Ever since I started blogging a few months ago, I have started to pay attention to my overall health a lot more. That doesn’t mean that I am actually doing everything I should be to stay healthy. There is still the whole caregiving and advocating for my husband and son, going to school and running a household thing I have to take care of. But this blog has given me a platform to share some funny and uplifting stories and experiences; as well as some very ugly and nerve-racking challenges associated with being a caregiver. Personally, I try to see the light in every dark situation. It just seems to make this roller-coaster ride a bit more bearable.
But I have had my fair share of experience with depression and anxiety. My hope for this post is to reach out to as many caregivers, parents and spouses as possible. And to let y’all know that it is OK to seek help.
October 6th, 2016 is National Depression Screening Day
This day is part of Mental Illness Awareness Week is held the first full week of October. According to Screening for Mental Health, Douglas Jacobs, M.D. with the American Psychiatric Association launched the first National Depression Screening Day in 1990. The point of this day is to create awareness through education and outreach; as well as suggesting connections to support services. Screening for Mental Health has created an anonymous screening tool that can be accessed right in the comfort of your own home.
There are three personalized screening tools:
I have personally completed the screening for Military Members and Family. It is super easy to use and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. There are screening tools for Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Use; just to name a few. Once you click on the Take a Screening tab, it will open a drop down menu for you to choose from. You can take multiple screenings, if you want to.
Now to the importance of such a screening:
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, military caregivers “experience depression nearly twice the rate of non-military caregivers.”
Let that sink in for a moment: Depression at almost 2x the rate of non-military caregivers!
The Family Caregiver Alliance also touches on some of the key issues military caregivers face:
- The challenges of providing care for someone with PTSD, TBI, and/or Dementia
- The struggle of trying to identify and avoid triggers
- Moving or otherwise accommodating the veteran’s needs
- Isolation and lack of support and understanding from peers
The problem is that depression can show itself in various ways and differ from person to person. However, there are some signs and symptoms people may experience. According to the The Family Caregiver Alliance Depression and Caregiving Publication, depression can have many symptoms:
- Feeling sad, tearful, empty, hopeless
- Changes in eating habits—weight loss and no appetite or cravings with weight gain
- Changes in sleep—too much sleep or not enough
- Feeling tired all the time, difficulty being motivated to do anything
- A loss of interest in people and/or activities that once brought you pleasure
- Feeling numb
- Becoming easily agitated or angered
- Feeling that nothing you do is good enough
- Increase in alcohol or drug consumption
- Excessive time on the internet
- Trouble focusing, thinking, or planning—as if your head was filled with fog
- Neglecting your physical well-being and appearance
- Thoughts of running away, or escaping from the situation
- Thoughts of death or suicide, ideas of how to end your life
- Ongoing physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic neck and back pain
Depression and Anxiety can be treated!
But for that to happen, we must take care of ourselves. As caregivers, we do an excellent job at identifying our veterans’ needs, triggers and changes in signs and symptoms. But we seem to ignore our own physical and, especially, mental health.
If we are to continue going above and beyond in our caregiver roles, we must support one another and take care of ourselves.
For more information check out these sites:
Lastly, I would like to share with you all again that it is OK to seek help! We fight against stigma associated with our veterans and special needs family members, but we must also fight against stigma associated with depression and anxiety in caregivers!
The first step in doing this, is to seek help for ourselves.
Want more resources and information like this? Be sure to sign up for my Newsletter and please don’t hesitate to seek help!
Disclaimer: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This page contains affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.