How many caregivers suffer from despair and wanting it all to end?

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I am a professional who deals with caregivers often, I spoke with a lady last week who shared she wanted to drive her car into the river, but she was a Christian. Another recently shared she wanted to end it all but knew she had to care for her husband? I want to know if this is common or an isolated incident? I want to educate others and get more help in the areas needed and open up the discussion so people are not alone. Thanks


First, your profile states that you are caring for someone with depression. You state you are a professional dealing with caregivers. Would you mind explaining your role in more detail? Are you a social worker, psychiatrist?

Second, I'm always a bit suspicious when broadly based, intensely personal questions are asked by someone for whom little background information is provided.

Third, what are your specific plans to "educate others", "get more help"? Through support groups, seminars, publications, on-line forums?

Fourth, your question is one based on narrow and drastic action - "despair" and "wanting it all to end". These are oviously the extreme measures if what you're referring to is suicide.

Fifth, Are you not dealing at all with the intermediate steps which can lead to these feelings, and how to address them so that an extremely dangerous emotional level is avoided?

Very common in both the patient and the caregiver to be unable to see beyond the abyss of caregiving. You encourage them to take life one day at a time. Your mere presence is their lifeline, your open ear absorbs the weight of their burden. You responses are formed in questions to draw out the festering emotions. You can no more "save" them than you can save a drunk from booze. You just point them in the right direction, help them get up and move forward.
"your open ear absorbs the weight of their burden"

Pam, your words are poetic and lyrical.
suicide among the elderly is a more interesting topic in my opinion.

i see more of that than care giver despair. care givers are generally frustrated with the evil that surrounds them, whether it's from relatives or their so called support system. i would include 'professionals' in the category of those who annoy us most. we cry out in pain, say a lot of things we don't really mean, in moments when someone is pushing us beyond all human limits, who wouldn't, care giver or not.
I have since revised my profile. I had not realized how important that information was to those responding. I am a Bereavement Coordinator who does Grief Counseling including Anticipatory Grieving that happens prior to the death. I am also a Chaplain as needed. I do have encouners with families when they are struggling with various dynamics that complicate care giving. I have been asked to put together a presentation for a care givers function on the subject of losing over a long period of time and the agony of what that entails. I am passionate about really reaching people and assisting them through such difficult cirmcumstances. I believe care giving is the hardest job there is. After a heart felt discussion with a widow and her despair over not having a way out of her responsibilities and wanting to end her own life it sparked an interest in me to find out how privilent the issue is. I want to bring the subject to the fore front if its common and give people permission to share about a difficult subject. I think the attention is all on the sick person and the care giver can be drowning. I appreciate your help and honesty. My intentions are purely for the well being of others and giving a voice to the care giver. In an effort to understand how common it is will then help me and those I work with provide the help early on for those who are may fall prey to it. My education has been primarily on grief aspects and religion. Thanks
Thanks Pam, loved your wisdom
Many caregivers are clinically depressed. Many people in the general population are clinically depressed. I would guess that it is more common among caregivers, but that is just a guess. I was treated for depression while caregiving.

Some people who are clinically depressed are suicidal. Whether that is more likely among caregivers than others I wouldn't even guess. I have never felt suicidal.

I think among caregivers there is a very strong commitment (out of love or obligation or guilt or who know?) to continue caregiving. I would expect the number of caregivers with suicidal thoughts who actually attempt suicide is lower than for the general population. Even if they are in despair about it, they see a reason to keep living. But that, again, is a guess.

People who are depressed deserve help. The stigma that still exists about the condition is a barrier to getting help. That is true for caregivers and for everyone else.

I think the majority of stressed, burned out caregivers want it to end. I quit my career, sold my home, basically lost everything, and moved 200km to care for my totally narcissistic mother for four hellish years and frequently wished either she or I would die. I lived in her freezing gloomy basement and most evenings I would sit and cry and try to find a way to escape and from time to time I considered suicide.

With Parkinsons, dementia, many strokes and constant falls/injuries it was eventually evident she needed professional care and she went into a nursing home, but I'm still not really free. Her daily screaming tantrum phone calls, along with having to run to the NH to sort out chaos she was causing, made me ill. I changed my phone number, made it unlisted and told her I'd got rid of it. I've been careful never to give her my new address either as 20 years ago, before the dementia, she called the cops on me when I didn't answer the phone.

Basically I went into hiding so she can't get at me any more. I still manage all her affairs, pay her bills, run her errands, ensure she has all she needs and visit once a week (to listen to a tirade of complaints, accusations and miseries).

She has been the mother from h*ll my whole life and all I do and have done for her is purely duty but, in the end I had to take drastic action to save myself and my sanity. Last week one of the NH staff told me that had I not taken the action I did and gone into hiding I'd be dead now ... a sobering thought.
My darkest moments (suicidal thoughts) were when my beloved dog died and her attitude was "Oh well". He was all I had left :(
Thanks for your honesty Ashlynne, it is heartbreaking to read. I do feel it is more common of a problem than is talked about. I think we fight to do what is noble and in the process lose ourselves. I also believe their is guilt in something being about you, instead of the one who is sick. Everyones focus is on one the sick and educating others (family) how to respond yet, where is the help for the care giver? I do hope bringing light to the subject allows others to at the very least not feel alone in their struggles. We applaud mothers of young kids and marvel how they do it yet, care giving gets no reward and I feel it is ten times harder dealing with an adult. I have empathy for the overwhelmed,overworked and overlooked care giver. I am proud of you for making the tough descions.

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