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Are you Depressed? A checklist for caregivers


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http://www.cancer.org/docroot/MBC/conte ... tearea=MBC

Are You Depressed? A Checklist for Caregivers

Caregivers at Risk for Depression

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the patient is not the only one affected. The person responsible for care is also affected. Providing care for a loved one with cancer can be very demanding. When caregivers don't attend to their own needs and allow other pressures to take over, they may become depressed and lose the ability to continue to care for their loved one.

Spotting depression as soon as possible can stop a downward spiral of sadness and inability to function. Many successful ways of treating depression are now available to help people regain joy, hope, and the ability to cope.

Below are some of the signs and symptoms of depression.

You feel sad or "empty" almost every day for most of the day

Your days bring little or no pleasure

You are either too restless or slowed down most of the time

You have trouble making decisions or have problems concentrating

You have lost interest in eating, or you are overeating. You have gained or lost weight without dieting

You have trouble sleeping, wake up early, or find yourself oversleeping

You feel many aches and pains that don't go away

You have lost interest in sex

You cry often

You feel tired or a lack of energy almost every day

You have thought about hurting yourself or attempted suicide

It isn't unusual for caregivers to have a couple of these symptoms for a short time. However, they may mean that you are at risk for becoming depressed. You may want to get more information about managing caregivers' responsibilities, including how to talk about cancer, and how to find a support group. You may want to get some ideas about healthy coping from our Coping Checklist for Caregivers.

If you have symptoms that last for 2 weeks or longer, or are severe enough to interfere with normal day-to-day life, see a doctor or mental health professional to be checked for depression. You may want to print this checklist and take it to show your doctor or health care team.

Looking at the last question, if you long to die or think of killing yourself, you may be seriously depressed. See your doctor right away. For more information call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Asking for help does not mean a person is crazy. Depression can be caused by the stress of caring for someone with cancer and the serious life issues that a cancer diagnosis creates. Depression may also occur because of a family history of depression, or with no clear reason. Most important, depression can be treated with great success if people ask for help.

ACS support programs reach cancer survivors and patients throughout the US, and practical advice is available online to help patients with managing day-to-day and coping with physical and emotional changes. For more information call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.

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