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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are caregivers more at risk for depression and anxiety?

    Also… how to avoid caregiver stress and take care of oneself?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

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    Marianne has 15 years private practice experience providing psychological services to people for depression, anxiety, substance use, trauma, life changes, parenting, post natal depression, physical … View Profile

    One thing that's important for caregivers is that they have support for themselves. People who are in a caring role are usually thinking too much about the person that they're looking after and often ignore their own needs. As far as being at risk for depression and anxiety, they may not be paying attention to their own moods. They may not be paying attention to their own anxiety levels or emotional reactions to things because they just need to do a job, so they'll quite often ignore their own personal experience. It is incredibly important that they learn really good self-care strategies.
    There are support groups for people who are in a caring role. That is something because quite often there is a financial burden being a carer. Developing an attitude that they will be made to be a priority so that they can be there for the person they're caring for in the best possible way.

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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    +1 to what Marianne wrote.

    The most important thing for care-givers is to *look after yourself first*. That is not a selfish thing - if caregivers do not do that then their ability to offer care can get badly messed up.


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    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    Yes, family carers are at significantly higher risk of depression than the general population - some good research is currently being conducted in this area in Australia. Roughly a third of carers experience depression, and being a carer is one of the reasons people give for their depression. For more info see the Beyond Blue website - http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=59.1178
      As well as the excellent ideas suggested by Marianne and Simon, there are some great resources available for carers through Beyond Blue  about how to look after yourself and where to get more support. Carers Australia is another excellent starting point to be pointed in the right direction. You can also access up to 6 free sessions of counselling through the Carers Association in your state - call   1800 242 636 if you'd like to find out more, or go to http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/how-we-work/national-programs/national-carer-counselling-program/

    All the best, Vivienne

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    Shelley Murphy

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist

    I work with Solution Focused Therapies with particular success with clients who have been controlled by their anxiety, phobias, depression, relationship, communication and self worth … View Profile

    Being time poor is a real challenge for Carers. After all the lament of many is that they simply do not have enough time to do all  that has to be done. When you are a Carer the demands on your time are doubled if not tripled. So anxiety and stress are possible consequences of living in such a demand driven environment. It is also very different to the work place or other situations we might encounter. We are not as emotionally invested in our workplaces and we also have respite from the stress producing environment. We get to go home, do the things we enjoy, take a break, have holidays.

    As a Carer if you do not consciously schedule these things in it is very easy to become absorbed in your responsibilities and forget about yourself. So I view it a bit like servicing your car. If you fail to do so eventually it will break down. Many of us take far better care of our cars than we do our own physical and mental health. 

    The fact is, if you want to be the value to others you need to invest in your well being. If you don't you well start to feel stressed and anxious. Bit like the red light you get on the petrol guage when you are running low on fuel.

    Yes you have a lot to do so you need to become a master at priortising let go of some of the non-essentials so that you can take the time out to fill your tank.

    Tap into the supports for Carers, take time out for some self care, meditate, read a good book, and do it without guilt. Think of it as self-improvement which in turn will improve your capacity as a Carer.

    Good luck and remember to keep that petrol tank full!

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