3 Mental Health Tips For Caregivers

Becoming a caregiver for a loved one can cause you to face any number of feelings and stress that might eventually turn into mental health concerns. Addressing your feelings and mental health earlier can help you build a support system that is a necessity for all caregivers.

Consider Counseling Early

Being a caregiver, especially for a loved one, can be overwhelming and you may experience many negative feelings. It is important for caregivers to seek counseling as soon as necessary. Often times it can be helpful to just talk about a variety of issues that may come to the surface, such as dealing with the declining health of someone you care about or resentment if you feel like the weight of care rests solely on your shoulders. Another problem you may have to face is dealing with issues related to mortality. It is not uncommon to develop significant anxiety or depression when a loved one might be nearing the end of their life.

Discuss Medication

If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other changes in your mental health, you should discuss the options for medication as part of your overall treatment plan. Depending on your jurisdiction, the person you see for therapy may be able to prescribe some mental health medications or they might need to refer you for further evaluation by a psychiatrist. Some people who have never needed medication to treat mental illness might avoid use, especially since they are newly responsible for their loved one and might be concerned about any side effects that could make sleepy, less vigilant, or otherwise inhibit their ability to be the caregiver. Fortunately, there are a wide range of medications used to treat depress, anxiety, and other mood disorders that should not cause decreases in vigilance and productivity.

Find Support Groups

Support groups, whether in-person or online, can improve your mental health. You may feel comforted by networking with other people who are going through the same issues, especially if you can find people whose loved one might be facing a similar medical issue like dementia. Another advantage of support groups for caregivers is many of the members are an invaluable resource for information. Often times, finances or feelings of guilt can be a hindrance when the caregiver needs additional help. Other people in the group may know of programs that can help people who have limited incomes or through state-issued insurance programs. Furthermore, hearing that it is okay to ask for help and to not do everything yourself can lessen feelings of guilt.

Whether you choose to be a caregiver for someone or do it because you feel obligated, does not make the physical and emotional toll any easier. Taking care of your mental health is critical for caregivers to maintain their overall health. Contact a provider, like Barbara Saban, LCSW, for more help.